Sunday, September 26, 2010



As I was walking through a hospital the other day I saw a notice posted in several places including the elevator. The gist of it was that in order to protect patients from unnecessary exposure to illnesses brought in from outside by visitors, the hospital’s administration was asking people not to visit the hospital if they had any of a list of symptoms including sore throat, fever, and other flu-like symptoms.


That morning I’d been meditating on Matthew 14:35-36:

“After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.”

An interesting note on this passage in the Jerusalem Bible (French edition) says, “Once more the power radiating from Jesus points up the contagious character of the Kingdom that he is bringing about.”

I spent some time considering “the contagious character of the Kingdom.” Although the word “contagious” usually has a negative feel (some exceptions are contagious laughter and perhaps yawning), the “contagious character of the Kingdom” is worth thinking about.


The idea would be that the Kingdom can be spread by contact with someone who has it; neither party need be aware that this is happening. You’ve probably heard of "Typhoid Mary," once called "the most dangerous woman in America," who personally caused at least a dozen outbreaks of typhoid fever. She showed no symptoms of the disease herself, but in working as a cook she kept infecting everybody else. (A brief account of her rather gruesome story can be found at this link.)

On the other hand it is our job as Christians to spread the Kingdom; this was the very instruction that Jesus gave his apostles in sending them out: “Go and spread the Good News to the ends of the earth!” They did it primarily by preaching, but, like their Master, they had other ways as well: they spread the Good News of the Kingdom also by miracles but especially by the example of their own lives.

As a priest I have the opportunity to spread the Gospel by literally preaching to people, but I’d like to think that most of my own spreading of the Kingdom results from contact – call it the “Typhoid Mary” effect. I’d like to think that the many students who have sat in my classroom over the years have caught the Kingdom simply by my tone of voice, by my patience and my cheerful manner. (Yikes! I hope that's not overly wishful thinking!) I’d like to think that I’ve spread a little of the Kingdom to people who have just casually met me in a department store or on a downtown street.

Unlike typhoid, the Contagious Kingdom can even be spread electronically: by telephone and texting, by blogs and websites, by television and radio and countless other methods.

So how come the Kingdom hasn’t become an epidemic? I suppose that in many ways it actually has, but for the sake of argument let's say that the world could use a Kingdom epidemic -- or even a pandemic. It’s obvious where it all has to start, right? With you and with me as individuals. Typhoid Mary was once called “a one-woman epidemic.” So why not try being a one-woman epidemic or a one-man epidemic yourself? Go ahead and see how many people you can infect with the Kingdom in the next 24 hours.


One good way that you can tell if you have caught the Kingdom yourself, and are therefore contagious, would be if you show any of the following symptoms as listed in Galatians 5:22-23:


If you think that you have any of these symptoms, please go out immediately and try to infect as many people as possible!

REMEMBER: You don’t have to make a big deal of it: the Kingdom is extremely contagious, it can be caught merely by contact.

................ Let's all go out and start an epidemic!



I'd be interested in your comments on this subject. For example, are some people immune to the Kingdom infection? Can one develop a resistence to it?



  1. I think it reminds me of the Grinch who after awhile when he realized after seeing the love in Whoville (sp?) he finally caught on. Love is catchy!

  2. On the subject of resistance to the Kingdom Infection, I say yes most people have the resistance. Religious or holy actions are characterized as weakness in the culture of capitalism. Belief in God is seen as unscientific and manifestations of Christ like compassion are assigned motives that are shameful. In my wide experience with people, very few have the infection and very few want it. If however you spend any time at all with people at peace who are in the service of God, one is exposed to powerful grace that impacts you throughout your life.