|Open Bible: March 2002||
The ten lepers, Luke 17, 11-19
On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus went through Samaria and Galilee. Entering a village, ten lepers met Jesus and Luke noticed they were all men. For the Jews, leprosy had a close link to sin.
Leprosy is the unique identification of these men; the
shameful sickness has transformed their social status. They are
condemned to live outside, "out of the city" according
to the Leviticus.
Jesus surprises us by his answer " Go and show
yourselves to the priests" Moses mentioned the case
in the Leviticus (14, 1-32). Everybody would think that he meant
the Jewish priests of Jerusalem, but one of the ten lepers, the
Samaritan, will be going to the temple of Mount Garizim, with
its own priests who are the rivals of the Jews.
Then the wish of these men was fulfilled. On the way back, discretely, away from the crowd of onlookers, Jesus' compassion showed up, they were all "purified" to use a religious term for this healing event. Nine of them still went on to accomplish what the Master said. Can we blame them? Used to the letter of the Law, they were immerged in a religion of "commands", their feelings and initiatives seemed to be barred by a Law that molds and constrains. The religion of "you must do or not do" But where is the relationship with the commandment "you shall love"? The link to love is fundamental for those who have to take initiatives in front of unexpected situations.
For the Samaritan, religion had not taken away from him the human feeling. First he looked at the reality, and he named it: "healed" " knowing he was healed". For him, illness is not related to religion but is the business of the medical doctors. Unfortunately in those times medicine could not do any thing for him. The one who healed him was a man, a man of an unknown power who seems to "preside over" life and death. As it is polite to thank a benefactor, the man spontaneously came back to Jesus in glorifying God. No need for him to go to the Temple, God is everywhere and mostly he is in this man, " a force went out of him and healed them all " (Luke 6,19)." He fell down at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks"
And Jesus had this disturbing question: "Where are the nine? What kind of religion had they these nine men? It did not make them more human in their conscience and their social life. Where was their freedom of thinking, their freedom of expressing joy for recovering a healthy life? The definitive words are pronounced to the Samaritan " saved", your faith had saved you!" (thy faith hath made thee whole). He was purified, healed, saved.