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.”
Jesus & the Ten Lepers from Will Heyward on Vimeo.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
In the ancient times lepers were considered people who were cursed by God and had no access to their families and friends. They were exiled to remote places away from those whom they loved.
Why should we talk about ancient times? We have people who are banished to places and situations away from healthy ones today among us. Being exiled from the company of those whom we love hurts.
I remember the days when I was in a village of lepers who were abandoned by their parents or their children or grandparents, cared for by the sisters of Mother Theresa and Capuchin Monks. They lived in their own self-contained cities waiting for the mercy of the other and visit by their dear ones.
I saw firsthand the tangibility of rejection. I saw firsthand why we are all important and real to God. I experienced God as the most available reality on earth. No human can under any circumstance reject the other whom God created. Because God is available to us all in the no man’s land between Samaria and Galilee.
Here is what the scripture says, “when Jesus was in the region between Samaria and Galilee, lepers approached him.”
Several years ago I had heard about the great approachability of my Bishop in India. Everyone spoke so greatly of him, I decided to test it. I visited him one day in the Bishop’s house without an appointment. I rang the door bell and the porter came and asked me why was I there? I said, I am here to visit the bishop. He asked, if I had an appointment and I said no. He asked me to sit down and informed the Bishop who was in his room writing some letters. The brother who answered my bell, returned and asked me to wait for him outside. However as soon as he left, I knocked on his door to be surprised by the voice from inside saying, “come on in”. With a broad smile he welcomed me and we talked for about 25 minutes!
I think of this incident very often to reflect how miraculous it is to allow people to walk into your life. How transformative it is to be real and present. How beautiful it is when we are as simple and real as the other is. How down to earth we can be with the other that will make the incarnation real. Jesus is to be born again and again among us and within us everyday and here it is in the story of the ten lepers.
Here I have no big theology. But a simple invitation to reflect upon two things.
1. No matter how and why we are exiled from God, we are still blessed with enough grace to come out of our hiding places to find God. We have to make the move. All people have the ability and power left in them to approach God from their worst moments of life. God will meet them in the region between Samaria and Galilee.
2. Today’s story of the lepers is not simply a story of gratitude, but it is the story of God’s availability to the grateful and ungrateful, to the powerful and powerless, to the lost and found. Jesus sends a message to the busy to stop and listen to the story of the redeemed no matter who you are: The priest, the Deacon, The CEO, The President. Stop and Listen to the story of the redeemed.
Allow the other to approach you.
- Your Holiness is in your availability to the other.
- Healing happens when we can come out of our hiding places.