O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God, our refuge and strength,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
that earth may know the peace of heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord is my shepherd;
therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul
and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil
and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 17.11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 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? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’
Yesterday’s reading invited us to respond to God’s call to serve in a spirit of joy and gratitude, rather than in a spirit of reluctance, even resentment. This message is hammered home in today’s reading from St Luke’s gospel.
Today we encounter Jesus healing ten lepers. Leprosy is a general term used in scripture to denote an indeterminate disease which caused the sufferer to be considered an outcast from society. Lepers were driven away from home and work to live a life of isolation and poverty. To be healed of leprosy was a gift beyond the wildest of dreams. Imagine the things you would most dearly love to happen or to receive, the thing that would really change your life for ever. Then, double or even treble it. Now you are coming close to understanding what it would have meant to have been healed of leprosy.
Today we read of Jesus healing ten such people in one go. They clearly recognized him, and they undoubtedly knew of his reputation for healing. So, they approached him and asked: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! Jesus did not hesitate in his response. Jesus did not have a moment of thinking: ‘What again? Do I really have to do this?’ No, Jesus simply sent them off to the priests (the only ones who could proclaim them cured) in the knowledge that as they turned from him they would be healed.
Then comes the core of today’s message. As they realized that their leprosy had gone, only one of them took the trouble to turn back, prostrate himself before Jesus and offer thanks. What is more, the one who did this was a Samaritan. Samaritans were the ultimate social outsiders to the Jewish community. They did not share the Jewish faith, and to associate with a Samaritan was seen as making oneself ritually unclean. But … it was a ‘hated’ Samaritan that turned back and said: ‘Thank you for giving me a new life.’ The other nine were no less healed of their leprosy because of their ingratitude, but they do remain the ones for whom we have less respect.
None of us deserve God’s healing touch in our lives, and yet it is there for us whenever we ask for it. It may not come in the form of a miraculous cure, but it is there in the form of consolation and peace. We may not, having taken our problems to God, walk away with a physical cure but we will know the warmth and joy of God’s loving embrace if we will allow him to walk with us through the dark times. The love and the peace of God is something very special, it is unique. Surely, the only response to his undeserved grace can be one of gratitude. So, let us remember that our prayers should always be prayers of thanksgiving. Rather than constantly bombarding God with the negative things that frustrate us, let us simply say: ‘Thank you, God, for creating this marvellous world, and for giving us a place in it.’
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray with thanksgiving to God for all the blessings of this life.
Empower the Church to be a refuge for all people, a beacon to all the nations. Keep her ministers always ready to receive and comfort those who come to them for any kind of help.
Bring reconciliation wherever there is conflict between faiths and races. Grant the spirit of peace, that none may be despised for their status or condition but all may be drawn into a single harmony of life.
We pray for our families, friends and neighbours, for shared sympathy and mutual help. Make us duly thankful for all the benefits we have received. Bless and strengthen all who work for the abandoned and homeless in our community.
Grant healing to the sick and skill to those who work for them. We pray particularly for those suffering from chronic illness and for those who are shunned because of their affliction.
We pray for those who have come through tribulation and suffering in this world, to be made whole in heaven. Give to them and to all the departed the eternal life of the faithful.
May our prayers be accepted in the name of Christ, the merciful Healer.
Prayer for the week
Lord Jesus, you have shown us
how great is the price of freedom
by giving your life to deliver us from evil.
Teach us to give to the uttermost;
to respect that which others have secured for us;
and to pursue peace in obedience to your will,
until all the kingdoms of this world come to you
as Lord and Saviour of all.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.
When to our world the Saviour came
the sick and helpless heard his name,
and in their weakness longed to see
the healing Christ of Galilee.
His sovereign purpose still remains
who rose in power, and lives and reigns;
till every tongue confess his praise,
the healing Christ of all our days.
Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926)