Today at a celebration of the Eucharist with some folks at a local Assisted Living Facility, we read the following gospel passage:
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samar′ia and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, “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 cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)
Here are some of the questions and observations that came from my time with this group of folks in their late 80’s and into their 90’s.
Question: Why did Jesus tell them to show themselves to the priest?
Answer: The command that the lepers go show themselves to the priest was based on the law. When someone was cured of leprosy, in order to be welcomed back into the full life of the community as a whole, it was the job of the priest to pronounce such a person as being made whole and clean.
Question: Is there anything significant about the fact that the one leper who came back was a Samaritan?
Answer: Samaritans, at the time of Christ, were considered by Jews to be enemies, heretics, and the lowest of the low. The fact that a Samaritan, a foreigner, came back to say ‘Thank you’ was shocking and unexpected. By describing this healing event in this manner Luke is highlighting the fact that, in Christ, all of God’s children and sacred and welcome to the kingdom of God.
· Gratitude is at the core of so much in life – recognizing all that we have to be grateful for and expressing it to God and others.
· Sometimes gratitude comes from unlikely sources: “I never thought I’d be grateful for an illness, but looking back, I learned so much about letting others take care of me and how loved I am by many.”
· An “attitude of gratitude” tends to lead to greater happiness, joy and peace.
· It’s a good idea to have a “Thank you” list – the list can be mental or physical, but it’s good to keep in mind the many, many reasons we have to say, “Thank you!”