A Coronavirus Chronicle #18

Subtitle: Disease and Social Distance

The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp (Leviticus 13.45-46; my emphasis)

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17.11-13; my emphasis)

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From biblical times (and, doubtless, before), disease, observing and honoring no barrier, more than race or gender, class or culture, has been and remains the chiefest determinant of why, when, and where the lines of demarcation are drawn to separate those who are in and those who are out, those who are included and those who are excluded.

So, it seems to me, in this time of the coronavirus pandemic, the most socially (actually, physically) distanced among (indeed, not among) us are those who have contracted COVID-19. These, our sisters and brothers, are isolated in their homes and, in the most serious of cases, confined to hospital intensive care units.

For their sake, I pray: Jesus, Master, have mercy on them; comfort them with the peace of Your presence and, with the presence of Your peace, heal them!

For the sake of our sisters and brothers who labor in the medical professions, I pray: Jesus, Master, have mercy on them; strengthen them with Your power and hold them fast under the fret of the care of the unrelenting, unbearable weight of their saving service!

For the sake of us all, distant from the comfort of that moment-by-moment longer past time called, “familiar” and that faraway land called “normal”, I pray: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us; gift us anew with Your grace of hope that we may stand fast, shrinking not under the looming shadows of anxiety and fear, as we await the coming of Your new day.

Amen.

© 2020 PRA

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