A Thankful Outsider

The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 17:12-19

It has probably become cliché to some to hear us say that the Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to every difficulty.  The world around us has made us jaded and cynical.  It has made us lack trust in one another and sometimes in the Church.   But we have to remind ourselves constantly that our world is not to be interpreted through the eyes of a cynical or untrusting world.

Our orientation, our interpretation of the world around us is meant to be influenced and molded by the teachings of Jesus Christ, His gospel and the words of Holy Scripture and the New Testament.  The lessons of holy scripture are rich with meaning for our lives.  The words of Scripture are powerful.  They instruct us and cleanse us and renew our minds.  So as we begin today let’s make a new beginning when it comes to our own daily personal reading of the Holy Bible.  Let’s commit together to each read at least one chapter of the New Testament every single day.  Or you may read both the epistle and gospel readings appointed for the day.  In this way we will each be pulling our weight and growing together in the word of God.  We will each be fully fed and nourished in the reading of the Word before we come together to partake of the Word made flesh on the Holy Altar.

In today’s reading we are given access to an amazing event.  We witness Our Lord God and savior Jesus Christ as He comes across a ten lepers who lived and dwelt together.  Leprosy is one of the diseases that is spoken of in the law of Moses and the appearance of leprosy within an individual was something of a death sentence.  That person was no longer allowed to dwell near his family or friends but dwelt outside with other lepers.  It was a terrible disease that led to complete isolation from the loved ones and the normal every day society.

The Lord saw these lepers as He entered a certain village and it is important to note that He did not run in the other direction.  He did not see them coming and quickly turn around and act busy.  He engaged them directly.  When the Lord tells us to visit the poor or the sick, He does so as one who spent His life doing just that.

The Lord healed the ten lepers.  This is truly amazing in and of itself but what is more amazing is the manner in which they were healed.  The first aspect to being healed is that they turned and recognized the source of healing.  They cried out “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  The directed all of their hopes and all of their weakness to the Lord.  And that must apply to us as well.  We have to be ready to fall to our knees and from the depths of our heart, cry out “Jesus, Master, have mercy on me!”

The Lord never touched them.  How did He impart His healing?  Let’s pay really close attention to this point.  The lepers cried out to the Lord and the Lord said to them “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  It is a stunning statement.  These lepers, most of whom are Jewish, knew that in order to be declared clean they had to be examined by one of the priests first.  Yet here we have the Lord telling them to go show themselves to the priest while they are still leprous.  They haven’t even been cleansed yet.  At this point it is possible that some of us would’ve been very angry with the Lord.  We would’ve argued and said “Lord, you have not healed us and yet you want us to go all the way to see the priests in order for the priests to tell us what we already know?”

But here is the second key to the healing of the lepers.  They didn’t argue or disobey the instruction of the Lord.  Their healing did not come from being rebellious or being headstrong.  Their healing came from their humble obedience to Jesus Christ.  They turned and went towards the priests and in doing so they were healed as they went away.  Each one of us is here in the spiritual hospital, the Church, because we are in need of healing and instruction.  Obeying the words of the Lord and the teachings of His body, the Church, are some of the most important steps in our healing process.

But there is something more here.  When we receive exactly what it is that we have needed by the grace of God, what happens next?  All of the lepers were so desperate for healing that they obeyed Our Lord and received their physical healing.  But only one of the lepers recognized God in all of this.  Only one of the lepers returned to give thanks to the Lord.  Now here is the kicker, that one single thankful leper was not even a Jew.  He was an outsider, a Samaritan.  It should astonish us, it certainly astonished Our Lord!  It was a sign that the outsider was ready to accept Jesus Christ and acknowledged the source of His healing.

We have many difficulties in life.  We have sicknesses, we have trouble finding jobs or making ends meet, so forth and so on.  When the trouble is past, how do we respond?  Do we simply go about our daily lives or do we pause and show our genuine gratitude to those who have helped us and specifically to the Lord who is the source of all good things?

We give thanks to God for all of His goodness.  We are all like this Samaritan leper.  We were outsiders and yet God has accepted us, has healed us and for that we owe Him our lives and our unending gratitude.  And glory be to God forever AMEN.

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