I did something today that surprised me, and, frankly, made me a little ashamed of myself. I am, by nature, a huggy person and a hand-shaker. But today I found myself – for just a moment – reluctant to shake someone’s hand.
I’d just read a news report that one of the most common ways people catch the flu is through contact with germy hands. And I bought into it.
Right now the news is full of fear and worry about the flu -we’re told that our fellow humans are walking germ-hosts. We’re told to avoid human contact with one another. We’re urged to get flu shots, and then told that these vaccines are only 60% effective against the flu, and might actually cause harm. It can all be a little scary.
I’m not here to take sides one way or the other on the whole vaccine debate. Do whatever you think you need to do for yourself, in that regard.
But I would like to talk a bit about the “rules” against human contact and … well… simple kindness, I guess.
I had occasion to do a little Biblical research today on the fear of contagion. There are a whole lot of rules about spreading germs and stuff in Leviticus:
“When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests: And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean. If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days… Every bed, whereon he lieth that hath the issue, is unclean: and every thing, whereon he sitteth, shall be unclean. And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And he that sitteth on any thing whereon he sat that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And he that toucheth the flesh of him that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.” – Leviticus 13 and 15
After reading these passages in Leviticus, Jesus’ response to leprosy and contagion (as recorded in the book of Mark) seemed absolutely remarkable to me. Listen to this (from the first chapter of Mark): “And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.”
Yup, you read that right – Jesus reached out and TOUCHED the man with leprosy! Without fear. Without worry. With kindness and love and compassion. And against all the rules and dictates of society.
I wanna be like Jesus.
I want to be governed by love, not fear. I want to heal, not be afraid of being sick. I want to spread the germs of love and hope and human kindness. I never ever want to hesitate to shake someone else’s hand again. Because that is just no way to live.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear…” – I john 4: 18
“If he (a person) believed as sincerely that health is catching when exposed to contact with healthy people, he would catch their state of feeling quite as surely and with better effect than he does the sick man’s. If only the people would believe that good is more contagious than evil, since God is omnipresence, how much more certain would be the doctor’s success, and the clergyman’s conversion of sinners.” – from Prose Works by Mary Baker Eddy