The Grateful Samaritan

Cleansing of the Ten Lepers (Unknown author – Codex Aureus Epternacensis)

32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday (Year II)

Titus 3:1-7; Luke 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him (Luke 17:11-12a).

Luke’s mention of Samaria and Galilee in the same breath set up the scenario of common calamity that united enemy races and nations. Leprosy cast Jew and Samaritan alike into the ghetto of outcasts. News of Jesus’ healing powers led the ten lepers to seek him together.

They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” (Luke 17:12b-13)

In obedience to the law, the lepers kept their distance. Invoking the name of Jesus enkindled faith and hope in the midst of darkness and despair. They received an unexpected response.

And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Luke 17:14a).

In Mark and Matthew, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched a leper with the words, “I do will it. Be made clean” (Mark 1:40-42; Matthew 8:1-3). Every personal encounter with Jesus is unique and unrepeatable. No formula or one-size-fits-all approach limits him.

Jesus remained at a distance from the lepers, and without any sign of healing, sent them to the priests to have their healing verified and a sacrifice offered on their behalf (Leviticus 14:2-4). 

As they were going they were cleansed (Luke 17:14b).

The healing of the ten lepers demonstrates the power of faith and prayer. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours (Mark 11:24). The gap between asking and receiving is a time of testing so that faith may be strengthened.

And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan (Luke 17:15-16).

Calamity united, but blessing separated. Cries for mercy resound in every quarter when disaster strikes, but in times of prosperity God is forgotten and human divisions rebound. Doesn’t bad news usually get more press than good news?

One out of ten returned to Jesus and gave thanks. He happened to be a Samaritan, a foreigner like Naaman the Syrian who received healing for his leprosy from Elisha, the prophet of Israel (2 Kings 5:1-19). 

Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Luke 17:17-18)

We do not know what transpired in the hearts and minds of the other nine. Perhaps they ran home to their families rejoicing and soon forgot the one who healed them. As in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26), an “unclean” heretic is commended by Jesus for authentic faith. Divine grace does not discriminate among persons. 

Salvation is neither earned nor inherited as a birthright:

But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).

Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you” (Luke 17:19).

-GMC

2 thoughts on “The Grateful Samaritan

  1. fdan

    Dear GMC, thank you for your reflection. Makes me weep that all our good Lord looked for was a simple thank you. I have to remember that when I forget to say thank you to our generous Lord. Thank you, Lord!

    Like

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