I spent a week in Culion, Palawan. In fact, it was a holy week. Yes, that’s part of Palawan. But I don’t think you would like to go there. Culion was a leper colony. That’s where we quarantine or exile people afflicted with leprosy or Hansen’s disease in the past.
When I was there, I saw an arch that marks the boundary in the island. It reminds people of the demarcation line between those who have leprosy and those who have no leprosy. It warned people from both sides not to cross over the boundary. I also learned that whenever a woman with leprosy would give birth, the doctors would immediately separate the child from the mother. They would not allow her to touch her baby. Then, in the nursery, she can just view her baby from a distance. When a person gets leprosy, he gets it for life. Most, if not all, did not get out of Culion alive. The exile was for life.
Now, due to medical breakthroughs, we no longer exile people with leprosy to Culion. Ever since doctors came up with the MDT or multi-drug therapy, we see people healed from the disease. Once the person takes MDT, he is no longer contagious.
But the problem with leprosy is that it disfigures the person. Because he can feel no pain, when a person with leprosy wounds, for example, his hand, it tends to be infected. Thus, they lose a finger or two or even the entire hand. Even if the MDT cures them from leprosy, they cannot grow back their lost fingers or hand again. The cure here did not reverse the curse.
But when it comes to our sinful state, the cure REVERSED the curse. In Christ, we can be spiritually whole. Verse 16 says, “Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.” The curse brought condemnation. But the cure brought justification. The curse declares we are “Guilty!” The cure declares us “Not guilty!”
There was a sad thing I saw when I was in Culion, Palawan. Yes, the multi-drug therapy or MDT cures people of leprosy. In fact, a foundation made sure that people in Culion received the MDT. So, every day they make the patients line up and gave it to them. But I noticed that after the patients placed the MDT in their mouths, the doctors would ask them to open their mouths to check if they really swallowed the medicine. Why? They found out that the patients would spit it out once they got out of the clinic.
They want to remain infected with leprosy. The people in Culion love to solicit money from people here and abroad. They were mendicants. Donations pour in from all over the world. In fact, the Postmaster General told me that though Culion is a small island, the amount of mail they receive is like that of a big municipality. The money will stop once they became clean from leprosy. There were even reports that parents would contaminate their children with the disease to keep the financial support flowing. Because of money, they want to remain lepers for life.