Weekly Gospel Reflection—13 October 2013
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”
When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
I’m sure there’s a lot we could say about this passage—Jesus traveling along the border, healing given from a word spoken, healing over a distance, the gratefulness of one who was healed, the shocking statement that the one who returned was a Samaritan, the “foreigner,” etc. And all of those would be great things to reflect upon. But I want to continue our focus on what those elements mean with respect to the incoming of the Reign of G_d within the life of Jesus.
As we’ve been noticing, Jesus seemed to believe (and the writers of the Gospels seemed to convey) that the long awaited promise of Yahweh, Israel’s G_d, to return to the people, land, and Temple was coming to pass in his life (Mark 1.14-15). One aspect of that promise would be the inclusion of all people, not just Israel (see here). With that in Jesus’ mind, well, of course, he would be traveling along the border. That’s were the outcasts are found. If G_d’s Realm is coming “on earth as in heaven” then, as we noted previously, it’s for everyone, especially those whom the Religious Elite feel are unworthy. But, the Realm of G_d puts that thinking on it’s head. Jesus said, “Those who are last will be first” (Matthew 20.16; cf. Matthew 19.30). He also tells a story about inviting all the wrong people to a party because the intended guests were found wanting (Luke 14.16-24).
And that last point is driven home by what happened to the ten people with skin diseases. Only the “foreigner”—the wrong person—returned to give thanks and homage to Jesus.
Perhaps that’s the lesson here. If we are too busy to notice what G_d is doing in the lives of others—even if they don’t view G_d in the same way we do—maybe we are like the other nine who aren’t gracious for what G_d’s doing. Maybe we don’t (or won’t) recognize it because it doesn’t fit into our little box of what we think it’s supposed to be like.
Have you experienced G_d working in the lives of others and and brushed it aside because it didn’t fit with your views? Have you ever sided with Religious Tradition instead of seeing the Spirit of G_d moving in ways that can’t be understood? Jesus seems to think that’s how the Spirit works (John 3.8). But even he seems to be surprised by the events depicted here. How much more should we be open to what G_d’s Spirit is doing in the world?
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC