In today’s Gospel a group of lepers ask for pity from Our Lord. Under Mosaic Law, lepers were outcasts and required not to draw near anyone not afflicted by their condition. They would also have to warn people who drew near, often shouting, “unclean, unclean.” The lepers in today’s Gospel are maintaining their distance out of respect for the Law (and to avoid the trouble they’d be in if they didn’t–people in general aren’t very warm to someone with an infectious disease). When Our Lord tells them to go show themselves to the priests, he is inviting them to make an act of faith: the Law also proscribed that when a leper was healed he should present himself to the priests, who’d certify the healing and allow him back into the community. They hadn’t been cleansed yet, but receive the miracle on the way to the priests.
The ten lepers have faith, but only one of them has the faith that goes the distance in terms of pleasing God: the Samaritan who returns to Jesus to thank him upon realizing that he’s been cured, a Samaritan, unlike the Jews, who didn’t even have all the spiritual resources at the time that a Jew would. Our Lord is merciful, so the other nine don’t get their healing taken away for not being grateful, but Our Lord’s reaction shows he was expecting something more. The nine lepers had a life of faith, but it was a little routine, and dulled to the sense of wonder when the Lord intervenes more forcefully in our lives. A vibrant faith, like that of the Samaritan formerly known as leper, responds with praise and thanksgiving when it realizes God has blessed it.
As believers we’ve received countless spiritual healings from God: through our baptism, through our sacramental life, and through our prayers. Grace sustains and restores us. Let’s get out of any spiritual rut we might find ourselves in today and praise and thank God for all his blessings, big and small.
Readings: Wisdom 6:1–11; Psalm 82:3–4, 6–7; Luke 17:11–19.