“DID I COME TO PLAY JESUS?” (Lk 5:12-16): 11 January 2008 (Friday)

“DID I COME TO PLAY JESUS?” (Lk 5:12-16):  11 January 2008 (Friday)


A song I’ve been listening to recently is “One” by Bono and Mary J. Blige.  Originally a U2 recording, they first sang it together at the benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and eventually recorded the duet.  One verse strikes me as particularly intriguing:

“Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head?”

The last question reminds me of an experience twenty years ago when I was sent to work in National Orthopedic Hospital for a month as part of our seminary experience.  I was assigned to work as a hospital attendant in the spinal ward.  My work consisted of helping the nurses take care of the patients, most of whom were paralyzed from the waste down and needed help.  At first it was kind of tough to be doing all the menial work.  It was physically exhausting because a lot of times you ran errands for them.  But it was also tough because the work involved doing things I was unaccustomed to, like bathing the patients or cleaning up their waste.  After the first week, however, I began to get settle into the routine of things.

But there was one patient that I avoided like a leper.  The reason?  He had scabies, a highly transmissible disease that causes a lot of itching.  All the nurses avoided him too; in fact, they were the ones who warned us about catching his scabies.  Each day I would go to all the other patients to perform all sorts of chores for them, but from this one patient I kept away.  But there was something about him that caught my attention.  Maybe it was the sullen look on his face, or the way he lay immobile in his bed, with only a blanket over him, his skin covered with sores. It must be miserable, I thought, to itch and not to be able to scratch yourself.

I don’t know what got into me, but one day on my second week there, my feet carried me to him.  I felt my stomach turn when I saw his sores up close, but just the same, I introduced myself and asked what I could do for him.  He requested for a bath, and as I wheeled him to the bathroom, I braced myself for the ordeal ahead.  I don’t know how I survived–this must be what the mystics and theologians call “grace”–but whatever disgust I felt completely disappeared when I saw the gratitude on his face afterwards. “Brother,” he told me, “I haven’t been bathed in months.”

In the gospel reading today, a man full of leprosy asked the Lord for help saying, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”  And we’re told that the Lord “stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do will it.  Be clean.’  And the leprosy left him immediately.”

Something similar happened to me in the hospital ward that day.  I stretched out my hand and touched the man with the scabies–except the leprosy left me.



Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now?
You got someone to blame

You say one love, one life (one life)
It’s one need in the night
One love (one love), get to share it
Leaves you darling, if you don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without

Well it’s too late, tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other

Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus?
To the lepers in your head

Well, did I ask too much, more than a lot?
You gave me nothing, now it’s all I got
We’re one, but we’re not the same
Well we, hurt each other
Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple
Love is a higher law
Love is a temple
Love is the higher law
You ask me to enter
Well then you make me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters and my
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

One love

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