Father Lam T. Le, Pastor
St. John Paul II Parish
3110 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs
November reminds us of that the great civil holiday in the United States of America—Thanksgiving. If you attend Church on that Thursday morning with a Catholic community, chances are you will hear Luke 17:11-19:
As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Let’s reflect upon the importance of the gift of healing for these ten lepers.
Leprosy is a terrible illness for those who lived before and during the time of Jesus: According to Mosaic law, those who were inflicted with this illness were declared unclean by the priest, and they were prevented from encountering others so as not to make them unclean (Lev. 13:45, 46; Deut 5:2). Jesus, in the Gospel today, not only healed the ten lepers but also instructed them to “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Lk 17: 14). Jesus made this command so that the priests could declare them clean and thus not only would physical healing be complete, but their emotional well-being would also be restored.
Sadly, only one person returned to thank Jesus and that led the Lord to say, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17: 17-18). Jesus called the Samaritan leper who returned to give him thanks “this foreigner” as a reminder for us of the mutual animosity between Jews and Samaritans. From the Jews’ point of view, the Samaritans were “the illegitimate” siblings and were unclean. Samaritans, considered to be unclean by Jews, constructed their own place of worship, a temple on Mt. Gerizim, erected in the fourth century B.C. Jesus highlights the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper as an example to His contemporaries and to all of us as well: the characteristic of being people of God is not whether we are born as a Jew or Samaritan, but it is in living a life of gratitude to God who heals all of our spiritual leprosy, namely sin which damages our relationship with God and with one another.
So, on Thanksgiving, don’t forget to gather in Churches or houses of prayer to show gratitude to the Lord for the many gifts, especially for healing of our spiritual leprosy by the Blood of Christ poured out on the Cross.