While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him.
I've had one motto I've always lived by: Dignity. Always dignity."—Singing in the Rain
I was twenty something years old and working as a bank teller. A woman that had just had facial surgery approached me. Her face was covered with gauze; what wasn’t covered was battered, black and blue. I processed her transaction all the while treating her as I did every other customer. At the end of the transaction her eyes connected with mine and she said, “Thank you for looking at me.”
At the age of sixteen I was on a bike ride up the coast from Santa Barbara to Solvang, California. At one point on PCH there were a number of storm drains grated the same direction as the road. My bicycle wheel dropped into one; stopping my bicycle and throwing me over my handlebars sans helmet. I stopped ten feet later. My septum was deviated, my face and shoulder looked like hamburger. After a couple of days of healing I returned to high school. For a week I heard, “What happened?” For a week I was exceedingly aware of the face I presented to the world.
James recently developed a cyst by his ear. The cyst grew to envelop the entire side of his face. Being on public insurance it took him a while to be able to get treatment for it. When they finally did operate they had to shave his head and cut him open from the top of his head to his neck. They removed the cyst but left a bag of skin where the growth had been.
James did not want to leave his house. He has been subjected to people who in their own discomfort have said things to him like, “You look like you have Cerebral Palsy. What’s wrong with you?” People have treated him as a leper. Still he manages to find the courage and strength to leave his house and lead his life.
Christ’s healing for the leper was two-fold. First He touched him, then He cleansed and restored him. If we have health and look normal it is a blessing. May God always give us the grace to look—and see the person underneath the skin. Dignity, always dignity.