Well-ness Words:  Mind, Body & Soul

Only One Came Back

11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with a skin disease approached him.  Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’s feet and thanked him.  And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean?  So where are the other nine? 18 Did none of them return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19, NRSVUE

You may or may not have read or heard this story before, and I promise you will be drawn to one of the characters if not all.  Ten men are ostracized from the community.  They are different and yet the same in that they are lepers.  Leprosy has made them unclean, and being unclean means that you are not welcome in the synagogue, your family and friends avoid you, and the community signals you out and warns others that a leper is around, so beware, lest you be contaminated.  Have you ever felt excluded or rejected?  Have you experienced avoidance from those you were once very close to?  Imagine what it would feel like if you were turned away at the church entrance for dressing differently, wearing your hair or your clothes differently, or owning a fragrance from a long and hard day’s work and not having the time to go home to shower because you would miss worship?  Or perhaps you were making breakfast for the family, and you walk into a train, a bus, an Uber, or a workplace reeking of oil, eggs, or spilled coffee, and you are waved away?  Perhaps one of your children or grandchildren was feeling under the weather and spit up on you, and you did not notice.  How does it feel to be glared at or steered away from when community and relationships are what we are to have and enjoy?

The ten men walked to the city’s outskirts; they saw Jesus and called out his name, asking for mercy while maintaining a distance.  Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests.  It does not seem that they argued with Jesus or questioned if he would heal them.  Perhaps they turned away, disappointed that Jesus was unwilling to heal them.  Yet something miraculous happens.  As they were walking, they noticed that they had been healed.  Can you imagine the excitement?  They could go back to their families, communities, and, ah yes!  the Temple!  Nine rejoiced, running to show everyone they could return to the community!  And one, a Samaritan, rejected not only for being a leper but also for being a Samaritan, must have looked at his skin in total disbelief and awe.  He was a Samaritan, and Samaritans and Jews did not get along.  There is history there and not a very good one.  The Samaritan turns to Jesus, praises God in a very loud voice, throws himself at Jesus’ feet, and thanks him.  The healing this former leper experienced was different.  Jesus healed him while being a Samaritan, and he was the one who came back to thank Jesus with his face to the ground.  The Samaritan was healed, and he was made whole!

And Jesus said “Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me.  And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go.”  John 6:37 The Message

Give thanks with a grateful heart!  Happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

In Christ,

Pastor Iraida