“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.” Mark 1:40-42
We all have untouchables, don’t we – if we’re honest. How easily we can judge others for treating some people as outcasts, as untouchables, as not good enough to associate with, acknowledge, love, reach out to, help, minister to, etc. How many of us, when we stop pointing the finger at others treating some as untouchables, find we are doing the very same thing whether consciously or not?
We don’t want to touch them, whoever they are. We don’t want to go near them. We cross the street to the other side. We go the other way. We turn our heads in another direction. Worse yet, we turn our hearts away. Many, if not most of us, have our own untouchables when it comes down to it, don’t we? We don’t want to touch them, not even with our eyes – or thoughts. Not even with our pennies. Oh, but some of us toss our coins to them, don’t we? If we toss them from far enough away, if we write our checks and stick them in the mail, if we drop our stuff off at the donation center and rush off to our comfort zones, we can say now we’ve done our duty. And go back to our lives. Without them. Without the untouchables threatening our agendas, comfort, time, schedules, emotions, the familiar, what we like and want – and don’t want.
Who are the untouchables? To some, the homeless. Drunks. Addicts. The poor. Rich. To others, the elderly. Kids with autism. The sick. Dying. Depressed. Widows. Orphans. People with deformities. The disabled. Prisoners. Handicapped. Paralyzed. Neighbors, strangers, foreigners. The abused. The depressed and suicidal. The list goes on!
We don’t want to touch them, do we, not to get close to them, approach them, befriend them, help them. We sometimes pretend they’re not there, don’t exist, and we neglect them. We may say hi, give a wave, but off we hurry to where we feel comfortable, away from the untouchables. Not only do we treat them as such, but then we pride-fully convince ourselves – and maybe others – we’re not doing what we’re doing. Jesus loved the untouchables. He didn’t hold back. He reached out – and touched them. What if the very ones we treat as untouchables are the ones God is leading us to minister to? At the very least, shouldn’t we be loving them? Are we?