“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!” (Luke 17:11 – 13)
I was telling someone the other day that Judaism was a religion and a faith not primarily practice in a church, temple, or synagogue – but in the home and community. So lepers, who would be shunned, isolated and kept out of the community because of fear and fear of contamination – would also be outside of the practicing of faith. There need for mercy and intervention was acute. Not only were they suffering because of the skin disease and the symptoms, but they were suffering because of neglect, lack of shelter and food, and lack of care. By “keeping their distance” one could tell that they were well practiced and experienced in knowing what was expected because of their condition; that bespeaks years of suffering.
“When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.” (Verse 14)
Although the priest of that time were not medical experts, they were leaders in the community and as such their authority and word had sway of the people in the community and village. It was by their word that a person was shunned and exiled, and by their word that someone was allowed back in. They went with fervent hope that their suffering and oppression was over.
“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.” (Verses 15 – 16)
Why is it that those who should not know the full extent of what is expected and needs to be done – do? And that those who are expected to know proper form and protocol – don’t? And why do you suppose that the Jesus and the gospels make note of this fact over and over again? It is woven throughout the story of Jesus that the Jews who were expecting a Messiah and a miracle were not able to see it when it was in front of them. And those who were expecting nothing, were grateful and fervent when signs and wonder were presented to them.
“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.” (Verses 17 – 19)
Remember this story was set between Galilee and Samaria. So it makes sense that the 10 were a mixture faith circles – some of each. The Samaritans did not have the same center of worship that the Jews would have – similar faiths but different places that they would gather to worship. The Jews felt theirs was the superior place to worship; the bible does not say much about what the opinion of the Samaritans were of the Jews. At least right now I cannot remember where that opinion might be expressed. Mayhap the Samaritans thought why does it matter where we worship, just as long as we worship the Divine. Which eminently explains why the Samaritan came back to thank and worship Jesus and God.
And what of what Jesus said? “Your faith has made you well.” I suspect that the other nine were healed of leprosy – skin clear and welcomed back into the community – but the tenth was made well and whole after his life altering experience. And is that not the point of faith, beloved reader? To make one whole and well?
May you, beloved reader, be cured and healed of the things that ail you. But more importantly, may you be made whole again! Selah!