The Leper healed

The Leper healed

The Leper healed.

(The Gospel History, Section 34)

And while he was in one of the cities, behold there cometh unto him a man full of leprosy: and when he saw Jesus he fell on his face and besought him, kneeling down to him and worshipping him, and saying unto him, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And being moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou made clean. And straightway his leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean. And he strictly charged him, and straightway sent him out, and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But he went out and began to publish it much, and to spread abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but was without in desert places; and great multitudes came together from every quarter to hear, and to be healed of their infirmities. But he withdrew himself in the deserts, and prayed.

The Leper healed

(The Saviour of the World, Vol II Book I Poem XI)

Now, who is this that stands beyond the crowd
And strikes a hollow bell and cries aloud
At ominous intervals, “Unclean! Unclean!”
The shuddering people shrink from sight obscene,
A man all over leprous, all disease,
Whose touch defiling e’en the vilest flees.
Removed from men, an outcast and forlorn,
From all he loved, from all who loved him, torn,
Small wonder wretched leper haunts the spot
Where men assemble, though his awful lot—
To cry aloud lest any near him draw,
And, touching, put himself without the law.

What news is this the distant outcast hears
Of how unhappy men, released from fears,
The maimed, the halt, the sick, have been made sound?
Is there no hope for him? His woe profound,
Hath it no place of pity in the heart
Of Him who walks the ways, His blessed part,
To carry comfort to each suffering soul;
Is it that even he might be made whole
By single touch of those so gracious hands,
Or, by one word of His who health commands
With secret hope to living soul untold,
He tracks the Christ, that, on occasion, bold
When fewer men are by, he might draw near
And urge His pity, work upon His fear
Of awful contact; to cleanse, were better, sure
Than risk corrupting touch with the impure!

Thus worked perhaps the mind whose body’s state
Unlovely thoughts too well might generate.
He gat him close to Christ, fell on his face,
And worshipping, besought Him of His grace
To make him clean; for, saith he, “If Thou wilt
“Thou canst remove this plague from me, my guilt!”
Ah me! This leper, justly doth he show,
The measure of our faith in hour of woe;
We too wait on our Lord with cries and tears,
“Thou canst, we know, but wilt relieve our fears?”
Nor ever see His will is on our part
His mercy, quick t’ alleviate our smart.
He can, He will, but is it for us meet,—
Deliverance we cry for? Pity, sweet,
Went out towards that leper all decayed,
And fallen away from likeness God had made!

He stretched His hand to touch the loathsome thing,
And said, “I will; be clean:” quick healing bring
His officers of health; the wretched frame
All sudden is made sound, with flesh the same
He had as little child. Ah, happy soul
Beginning life anew all clean and whole!
Sure, every word of His grown dear to thee,
Thy life to His obedience thus set free,
Thou goest hence to serve Him as may be;
And He lays hest upon thee, “See thou say
“Nothing to any man, but go thy way,
“Shew thyself to the priest, and offer things
“Which, by command of Moses, leper brings
“To witness to his cleansing.” Glad, he goes,
Each small obedience precious, we suppose?
But who can judge that leprosy of heart,
Sin, name we it, wherein we all have part!
If any way be open save His way
Wilful, we make our choice to disobey.
In “man’s first disobedience,” share we all;
That little thing we’re bidden works our fall!

Even so this leper, bid to hold his peace
Nor publish among men that vast release
Christ wrought for him, is quick to find good cause
For disobedience: “The leper draws,
If all men’s loathing, yet their pity, too;
He feeds on alms; but what now must I do
A healthy man without the means to live?
If I proclaim my cure, all men will give,
Seeing me clean and sound, to hear the tale
Of how a word could cleanse; nor will they fail
To glorify Him who such wonder wrought;
No cause hath He then to complain of aught!”
And so the man went forth and spread the news
Of what Christ did for him; and hate pursues
Our merciful sweet Lord, who could no more
Enter a city for the jealous dread
Of scribes and priests lest all the folk be led
To follow Him, forsaking the dull round
Of rite and precept where no help was found.
To desert places went the Lord to hide;
In wildernesses chose He to abide;
But multitudes from every quarter came
And brought their sick, their blind, their halt, their lame,—
Some for the healing impulse of His word,
And some to crave such cures as they had heard
Were wrought elsewhere: He taught and healed them all,
Heard, whosoever on His grace did call.
Then to remoter waste, His steps He bent,
Vigil to keep with God, for He was spent.

St. Mark i. 40-45;
St. Luke v. 12-16;
St. Matthew viii. 2-4