Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hansen's Disease

A medical school professor, finished forty years as a teacher and retired; he writes a column in the Peace Weekly on Hansen's Disease, his field as a researcher and medical practitioner.

His life has been his work, and apologizes to those who have worked with him for being stubborn and slow to listen. He, unconsciously, both in word and action has hurt the feelings of many and  asks for forgiveness. 

In his plea for forgiveness he uses a phrase from Confucius ε’Œθ€ŒδΈεŒ, which translated freely: being at peace with others  does not mean that we think the same. This is a sign of a wise person while the small-minded  person wants the other person to be of the same mind if there is to be peace and harmony between oneself and another. The doctor admits that he was slow in understanding this and is sorry.

For the doctor one of the hardest situations to deal with was the way leprosy is used in the Scriptures as a punishment from God. Every time he hears these words it hurts him greatly. The word leprosy appears 83 times in the Bible. It appears both in the Old and New Testaments. When Moses received the mission to liberate the Jews in Egypt, he was given leprosy and cured by God to rid himself of his doubts.

In the English Bible in Leviticus, the word leprosy is used but in the Korean Bible, it is malignant skin disease. In Leviticus chapter 14, we have the purification rite for leprosy.  Since 1943, we have the discovery of medicine that cures the disease. In a period of one to two years, the disease is cured. In one year in Korea, there are less than ten with the main symptoms, and they are of an ordinary infectious disease.

St. Luke who was a doctor mentions in chapter five verses 12-16 the cure of a person with leprosy. In the Old Testament, it was a sign of uncleanness and ungodliness, and here we have a cure. The doctor remarks that the understanding of punishment that was present is no longer true in the New Testament because of Jesus.

We are in New Testament times and hope that the readers will never use the word leprosy as referring to sin and punishment. Hansen's disease used in place of leprosy is an effort of many to disassociate  it from the term leper.

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