Even though the blistered foreheads and inflamed eyes, the blunted fingers and abscessed toes disclosed the disease without a word, lepers were required by Law to announce their affliction, “I’m dirty; I’m unclean; I’m ritually impure. Stay away.”
Yet, Jesus had a disquieting habit of inviting the disciples to come closer, to learn from the least expected, the last in line. The widow offering her mite to the treasury, the Prodigal come home from dissolute living, the sawed-off tax collector swinging in the Sycamore tree, and the one leper out of ten.
In today’s text, what does the Samaritan teach us about discipleship?
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.”
That the temple system created the leper culture and the Samaritan opted out of the hierarchy.
If you’re going to disagree with Jesus, do it by thanking him.
Faithfulness often comes from the person with the worst pedigree.
Conversion means a turning back to God.
The 7 deadly sins are lust and envy, wrath and greed, sloth and gluttony, pride. But there is an eighth that is far more sinister. Grumbling that the Wi-Fi is too slow; murmuring that the traffic jam is too long; complaining that AHOPE is out of free doughnuts; that the toilet seat is up and the stock market is trending down. It is an utter lack of appreciation, the greatest spiritual suffering the world has ever known, ingratitude. Ingratitude.
What does the Samaritan teach us about discipleship?
Praising God with a loud voice, the foreigner says, “Once a flesh pot of infirmity, now I’m a smooth-skinned able body. Thank you.” Praising God with a loud voice, the foreigner says, “Once a destitute beggar of money, now I’m a bended-knee disciple of mercy. Thank you.” Praising God with a loud voice, the foreigner says, “Once banished to the colony of castaways, now I’m incorporated into the citizenry of heaven. Thank you.”
“Gratitude,” says Melody Beattie, “unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
In the Gospel of Luke, the blind see the sun rise and the deaf hear the Mockingbird sing, the lame kick over their wheelchairs and the dead abandoned their graves. God’s healing is always an invitation to live as changed people. The miracle Jesus’ performs isn’t the point, but rather our grateful response to it.
So go, all of you whose faith has made you well, to say grace, to count your blessings, to celebrate to most basic of Christian virtues, Thanksgiving.