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By Fr. Cyril Lovett

Leprosy - that dreadful word
causing terror in the heart
bad enough to live with rotting flesh
but even worse to be among the living dead
cut off from relatives, friends, community

One man made bold by hope broke the taboo,
sought out Jesus ministering in a town
passed shocked bystanders and pleaded on his knees
“if you want to, you can cure me”

Jesus moved by pity or anger at his plight
in turn broke the taboo reached out and touched him
“of course I want to, be healed!”

Healed, restored to communion with fellow men and women
free to tell his amazing story before
those anxious incredulous eyes that searched
his face, his skin and found no blemish
after which Luke remarks that Jesus
“could no longer go openly into any town
but had to stay outside where nobody lived”

An improbable kind of changing places
but not an inappropriate outcome
that one so frequently found
among the poor, the ostracized, the outcasts
who would himself die outside the city walls
must henceforth be sought on the margins
hardly surprising then
that in such places, among such people
we find the clearest traces of his living presence
even in our own day.

Columban Fr. Cyril Lovett resides in Ireland.

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