October 10, 2019
Scripture Luke 17:11-19
When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?”
Luke 17:14-17 NRSV
You and I do not deal with dreaded diseases, such as leprosy. But, this was a dreaded and incurable disease in the ancient world. The Hebrew law was specific in dealing with it. Listed in Leviticus 13, it formed a system of examination and quarantine that could serve as the model for public health departments today. Apparently, these remained effective and were enforced in Palestine as Jesus and his followers encounter the Ten Lepers.
However, the unstated tragedy in the story is the isolation and loneliness of these individuals who were sentenced to a virtual living death. And yet, Jesus could see past the law to their plight, performing a miraculous healing through God’s power. The response may have been typical for the crowds that followed Jesus: unbridled joy and celebration. But, only one joyous, healed individual returned to give thanks to Jesus and to God. And, this person was a Samaritan: someone outside of Judaism altogether. He was an outcast to all faithful Jews.
The gospel writer wants us to know that everyone has access to God. You and I can participate in the continuing gift of God’s love and forgiveness through our faith, just as the healed Samaritan did. Although we do not have the outward signs of a dreaded disease, we are less-than-perfect beings who may lack the outward evidence of internal scars and emotional difficulties. But, through faith, we can be restored, as well. In this story of power, mercy, and love, Christ shows us that our faith in God can make all the difference in our daily living, when we believe and accept God’s gift of grace, healing, and forgiveness.
Thanks be to God, who makes all things new!