Spiritual Leprosy’s Cause and Cure

(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: https://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Mass-Blog-for-the-Sixth-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-2024.mp3)

Many Christians working in the medical community know how lepers felt in Biblical times. Some employers in that field see faith as an infection that could cause harm to a person being treated for something life-threatening. That’s why some of them shun candidates whose resumes indicate they’ve used their scientific education to benefit humanity while on Christian mission trips. This prejudice has caused candidates trying to enter that field to conceal their Christian identity.

They’re not much different from the lepers of Biblical times. They WANTED to conceal their condition for fear of cancellation, but, as Moses and Aaron were instructed, they were expected to warn others of it as they approached.

“The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!,” says Sunday’s reading from Leviticus (Lv 13:1-2, 44-46).  

Jesus himself experienced the same reluctance to make his identity as the Christ widely known. He specifically told the leper he cures in Sunday’s gospel reading (Mk 1:40-45) NOT to tell anyone. Why?

Maybe because he knew the word-of-mouth about the success of his healing mission would cause an unmanageable swarm of similarly diseased followers and impede the success of his teaching mission. Or maybe because he knew his mastery in both missions would be seen as dangerous to those with worldly power. They would eventually pursue and capture him so his Godly mission could no longer threaten their illusion of power.

Britannica online states that fear of leprosy’s contagion in ancient times, and fear of what those in power could do to the infected, made this malady particularly torturous to victims.

“Leprosy came to be referred to as the ‘living death,’ and often its victims were treated as if they had already died,” it states. Not much different from Christianity’s contribution to career death in the sciences.

A study titled Christianity as a Concealable Stigmatized Identity (CSI) among Biology Graduate Students cites the experience of one subject who intentionally omitted notation of his Christian mission trip from the personal statement he submitted to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). He also kept to himself the importance of his religion in general.

Keeping such secrets was not without good reason, this report concluded. Faith-based mission trips can not only make participants less desirable candidates for graduate school, but even mark them as good as dead to some profession gatekeepers—dead as those ancient lepers were to societies that conducted funeral services for them while they were still alive.

We Christians would do well to imitate Paul, who considered himself dead to this world—and wished to save others from its mortality by his example. In the letter to the Corinthians we read this Sunday (1 Cor 10:31—11:1), he teaches us to be diplomats to the dying world so as not to scare them away from the cure God offers:

Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

The report concludes on a positive note, as Paul does. It foresees a time when Christians could become boundary spanners, helping other stigmatized groups surmount barriers raised by race, gender or other identity markers.

If believers in something greater than themselves are to be stigmatized, it might as well be for the wounds Christ bore to save us from the world that inflicted them, out of both fear and ignorance. Now THOSE two human characteristics are mortal wounds.

–Tom Andel


  1. This week’s blog dramatizes the convoluted logic of the world today. How Christians are marginalized for their beliefs. Whatever happened to the 1st Amendment? Oh sorry, it is ignored when convenient to the leftist secular agenda.

    Interestingly, Catholics were devalued and marginalized in the early decades of the founding of this country.

    The big missing piece that is mostly overlooked on our earthly journey is the reality of our mission assignment from God. Follow Jesus Christ at all times in all circumstances.

  2. Ironic that supposed scientists would deny a creator given that the probability of creation without one is almost nil. My source is Eric Metaxas

    • It proves that scientists are only human, Ron, and just as subject to peer pressure as high school sophomores. In many of those circles, Christianity isn’t cool–and has no place in temples of science. Such “scholars” have a lot to learn before understanding the Living Truth.

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