Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pentecost 20c - Luke 17:11-19

The ten lepers meet the Lord in the land between religiously unclean Samaria and racially unclean Galilee of the Gentiles. They are nine Jews and one Samaritan bound together by their disease for in leprosy there is neither Jew nor Samaritan for all are equally unclean. Keeping the required distance they cry out for mercy. Jesus does not disappoint, though “Go and show yourselves to the priests” must have seemed premature as they are not healed until they turn and do as they are told. The one who turns back is the hero, of course, the dirty foreigner more clean than the nine Jewish ex lepers and Jesus makes a point of it but not just as a reminder to be thankful and praise God. It has more to do with a plea for mercy when living lost in the land between. The faith that restored the one restored the nine as well because the cry for mercy from Jesus the master was the act of faith and the turning to go and show was obedience even before healing happened. But the turning back one knows it and the nine do not. The benefit in knowing is that even when skin is clean and health restored one can still live lost in the land between. So faith to be made well is not about skin condition but about the condition of one’s soul which is well when the mercy of God is recognized and praised. And when the soul is well the whole body is clean.


  1. It is somehow difficult for us to grasp how much God wants relationship with us. One out of ten turns back to acknowledge the relationship and be grateful for the wholeness it gave to him. The others took it for granted, at least on the surface acting as though they deserved mercy. When I read this section I always end up pondering which leper I might be in that same situation.

  2. The nine do what they are told to do and what the law requires. Show yourself the priest. Maybe being a Samaritan helps the one turn back in the same way that those outside the church sometimes get what God is about before we who have lived in it our whole life?