Thoughts To Live By…

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Reflection on Mark 1:44

“It is hard for us today to imagine the awful condition of the leper in New Testament times. He was considered legally dead. But, worse, he was considered morally unclean. Forbidden to enter any walled city-lashed thirty-nine times if he did-he wandered, muffled to the eyes, crying ‘Unclean!’

“Under Jewish law, no one could greet him. Under the law, no one could approach within six feet of the leper-one hundred feet if the wind came from his direction. Any building he entered was considered defiled and had to be purified. The common practice was to throw stones at or run and hide from any leper who approached.

“Such was the man who came to Jesus. What compassion and greatness he must have sensed in the Master to break the law in this manner. And what was the response? Against all law and tradition, Jesus reached out and touched the leper and by His touch cleansed him of his filthiness. By His touch, to save His brother, Jesus descended lower than any man-exactly as He did, later, to save each of us.

“We are that leper, each of us unclean in his own way  each of us is in need of recognition and acceptance and care, each of us is in need of forgiveness and reconciliation each of us crying, ‘If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’

Think of leprosy-the rotting flesh, the stench, the ingrained horror of physical and ritual contamination that Jesus would have learned from babyhood. Those are powerful physical and emotional barriers to overcome. Jesus not only overcame those barriers enough to be ‘moved with compassion,’ the scripture says, but he ‘put forth his hand, and touched him’ (Mark 1:40-42; italics added). This was not long-distance healing. This was close, intimate, a refusal by the Savior to accept that there was anything in human life, no matter how repulsive it may have been to other people, that he could not transform into cleanliness and wholeness by putting his hand on it.” (Disciples [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 93 – 94.)

Pause and reflect: “For this reason, the great challenges facing the world at the present time, such as globalization, human rights abuses, unjust social structures, cannot be confronted and overcome unless attention is focused on the deepest needs of the human person: the promotion of human dignity, well-being and, in the final analysis, eternal salvation” (Pope Benedict XVI, Christ is Source of Charity)

Useful Poem and Song:

Be Thou Clean

My sins were as scarlet; they were a burden to me.
My eyes were so blinded that I could not see.
Then I heard of Christ dying on Calvary,
And my soul stirred to life deep inside of me.

Chorus:
I wondered if Jesus would have compassion on me.
I asked Him if He was willing, and He said, “Be thou clean.”
“Oh sinner, come unto Me. I am willing; be thou clean.”
I asked Him if He was willing, and He said, “Be thou clean.”

My sins, oh how many, pierced my soul like a dart!
Foul leprosy within seemed to stain every part.
I wondered if it was possible to make a new start,
And then God’s gracious love came and filled my heart.

I was like a black sheep that had wandered astray.
I had rebelled against God and gone my own way.
Then I, in repentance, fell on my knees to pray,
And Christ’s precious blood washed my sins all away.

If you are weighed down by your sin’s constant blame,
Overwhelmed and grieved by the burden of shame,
Take a look at the Saviour; there’s a reason He came,
He died for your sins – hear Him calling your name.

Poem written February 4th/2000
Jerry Bouey

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