28C – 13 Oct 2013

28C – 13 Oct 2013

Cured and healed

Message by: Fr Richard M Healey

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Today in the Gospel, from Luke chapter 17, we hear the story of an encounter between Jesus and a group of ten lepers – some of them are Jewish and some of them are foreigners from the despised region of Samaria. We are probably at least vaguely familiar with the terrible situation of lepers in the time of Jesus. The fact that people who are normally bitter enemies decide to be companions indicates something of how desperate they have become.

The law of Moses requires that lepers avoid contact with people who are well, so they tended to haunt the outskirts of towns and relied on charity to survive. This group has perhaps heard of the compassion and healing power of Jesus, so shout out to Jesus from the proper distance for mercy. Jesus gives them a simple command, just as the prophet Elisha does to the leper Naaman – in the second book of Kings, chapter 5.

In a test of obedience, the ten lepers are not healed straight away – only when they are on their journey to show themselves to the priests – who in Jewish law was the only one who could declare someone to be free of leprosy and able to return to society. But all ten are made clean and are declared able to live in the town and to be with their families again.

All ten are made clean, but only one is grateful enough to return to Jesus to offer him thanks. The irony is that the one who returns is a foreigner – one of the despised Samaritans. The very name of the Jewish people reminds them to praise God, because the word Judah in Hebrew means ‘praise’.

Perhaps we also know in our heads that God is the giver of all things that we have – every breath that we take or note of music that we hear, every smile or hug that we receive and a thousand things beyond are good gifts of a generous God. How different would the world be if we were able to live in that generosity all the time.

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