Book review: Kissing the Leper

by Brad Jersak


Revelation counsels, “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”  This is a book about seeing Jesus, especially in the marginalized. The title derives from an encounter that Francis of Assisi had with Christ in a leper. In that moment, his eyes were opened to the possibility of seeing Jesus in those whom you wouldn’t expect. We naturally turn away from those we deem too sinful, too broken, too small or too poor … and when we do, we miss seeing Jesus.

There are several contributors, and maybe a couple dozen stories, finding Jesus in the most unlikely. Here’s one:

Marshall Rosenberg tells of his grandmother meeting a bearded, scraggly beggar at the door, looking for some dinner. She asked him his name. “My name is Jesus,” he replied. “Do you have a last name?” “I am Jesus the Lord.” The man didn’t have a home, didn’t know where he’d be staying. “Would you like to stay here?”

He stayed seven years.

Would you have seen Jesus in this man? Without a driving compassion to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless, few would have seen more than a filthy lunatic. In this book, you’ll meet Jesus among the sick, mentally and physically disabled, autistic, even someone with multiple personalities. Aids victims, addicts,  gays. I think you’ll meet just about everybody but a real leper.

Touching and refreshing, you’ll finish the book with a deeper compassion and an eye for Jesus … and maybe an open table.

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