Thursday, October 14, 2010

Alms For an Old Ex-Leper...

(photo from
Ok, it's stupid and irreverent. It's more than just a little offensive to a lot of church folk. But I can laugh at myself, even as a Christian, and I try not to get offended by the everyday things. It's "The Life of Brian," a Monty Python flick, and it's not quite as well known as "The Holy Grail." But it's funny, at least for the not so easily offended. Still, I don't recommend it, so if you watch it, don't say that I told you to.
It's a total spoof of practically everything in the gospels so I'm not going to recommend it to any of my folks, but there is still some good stuff in it. From the very beginning of the movie, Brian is being exalted as a messiah (Which literally means one who is anticipated as a liberator. We have made it a religious term) and all the way through the movie he tries to deny it, but folks just won't listen. Even his mum tries to convince the townsfolk that he's not the messiah..."He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy."

There is one scene, however, that made me stop and think about something. We have all kinds of healing stories in the scriptures. Jesus was always healing this person of that, or casting demons out of that person, opening the eyes of this person, or restoring that person. And I've wondered what happened to these folks after their healing. I mean, we get some of the stories: one blind man gets kicked out of the temple because Jesus healed leper out of ten comes back to give thanks... But were there any folks who had been healed that had just as soon he had left them alone?

What I have wondered is this: were there any who were more comfortable in their disease than in their healing? In this scene from "The Life of Brian" there is...

Ex-leper: "Okay sir, my final offer; half a shekel for an ol' ex-leper?"
Brian: "Did you say, 'ex-leper'?"
Ex-leper: "That's right sir. 16 years behind a veil, and proud of it."
Brian: "Well, what happened?"
Ex-leper: "Oh, cured, sir."
Brian: "Cured?"
Ex-leper: "Yes sir, bloody miracle, sir. Bless you!"
Brian: "Who cured you?"
Ex-leper: "Jesus did, sir. I was hopping along, minding my own business, all of a sudden, up he
comes, cures me! One minute I'm a leper with a trade, next minute my livelihood's
gone. Not so much as a by your leave! "You're cured, mate!" Bloody do-gooder."

He was perfectly content in his dis-ease. Now that he's been healed, he has to get up and do something. Hmmm, now there's a thought. Someone who was once outcast by a condition, encountered the healing touch of Christ, and now realizes that because of that healing, there are things to be done. I wonder if they ever wanted to go back to business as usual. I wonder if they ever thought, "You know, it wasn't the best scenario, but it wasn't really that bad..." I wonder if they had ever thought about a compromise, you know, being healed some from what they were, so that they can function in society again, but not so much that the people around them were going to have very high expectations.

Brian: "Well, why don't you go and tell him you want to be a leper again?"
Ex-leper: "Uh, I could do that, sir, yeah. Yeah, I could do that, I suppose. What I was thinking
was that I was going to ask him if he could make me a bit lame in one leg during the
middle of the week. You know, something beggable, but not leprosy, which is a pain
in the *** to be blunt, and excuse my French, sir."

I think that if we're honest, we can look and find that most of us have some of the ex-leper mentality. We want to be healed as long as we don't have to do much afterward. We don't really want to be like we were, but we're not quite sure that we're ready to be what we have been re-created to be.

We know that since we've been healed, Jesus is going to put us to work. Maybe if we held on to a little bit of our dis-ease (hyphen intentional) then we can still celebrate the healing without being put to work. I don't know, but I do know has been my experience so far that the folks who have been healed the most are usually the first ones on the battle front. They don't want to go back to the way they were, and can't wait to be put to work for the kingdom. So, maybe a little dis-ease wouldn't be a bad thing for a lot of us. It would remind us just how powerful the One we serve really is, and from where it is we have been brought.


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