Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
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.’
Have you ever found yourself in a strange town or city, a place where you are unfamiliar with the people and the surroundings? You may have been surrounded by many people, but your lack of familiarity with the environment in which you found yourself created a sense of emptiness, loneliness and isolation. Today’s reading opens with Jesus travelling in two named regions: Samaria and Galilee. As we know from the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jews did not consider that anything good could possibly exist in the Samaritan territories. In Galilee, Jesus’ home town, we have already seen him rejected by those who felt threatened by his teaching, his power to heal and his willingness to challenge the accepted religious norms of the day. As Jesus travelled from place to place he must have felt isolated and, perhaps, threatened by the suspicion with which he was viewed by the authorities. And yet, Jesus never travelled alone. Jesus always travelled in the company of his, and our, Heavenly Father.
In the second half of the gospel narrative we see Jesus travelling towards Jerusalem, the city in which he will be arrested, tried and executed. As he journeys towards that great city his message becomes increasingly difficult to hear and understand for those who are unable to repent, to turn around and follow a different path. On more than one occasion we read of Jesus hiding for fear of his life. But, today, we see outcasts from society seeking the healing that can come from him alone.
Whether the lepers were from Galilee or Samaria, they would have been a group that most would have crossed the road to avoid. They were unclean in Jewish law and a threat to public health elsewhere. However, Jesus did not cross the road. Instead he gave them the gift of healing. Despite their affliction and despite the attitude of the society in which they existed, Jesus gave them their health. How would you react to such a gift? Surely you would want to shout it from the rooftops, to thank the one who had given you back your life. But Luke tells of only one who turned back, praising God with a loud voice … and he was a Samaritan.
Today we are being challenged to go out in faith and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those we encounter day-by-day. Whether the streets along which we travel are familiar or strange, friendly or hostile, we are called to travel in the confidence that we are accompanied by our loving, Heavenly Father, and we are called to help others to find the voice with which they can loudly praise God.
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