REAL GRATITUDE vs. THE FORMAL KIND
(Saturday, December 9)
“Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’” (Lk 17:12-19)
According to the Law, (Lev 14:2ff), lepers on the day they were healed had to come to the priest, who was to examine whether they truly had been healed; then, offerings were to be offered to “cleanse” them, after which they could return into “the camp”; and after several other rites that lasted over a week, they were permitted to return into their “tent” or home. Our Lord tells ten not-yet healed lepers to “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” All of them are healed along the way, and most of them proceed to do as they were told. But one of them, a Samaritan, *before* showing himself to the priests as he was told to do, immediately returns to thank his Healer. This he was not told to do. It was common decency. But to be fair to the other nine, they did go and do the thing that the Lord told them to do, and this whole process would have lasted quite a while, considering the fact that there were nine of them. You can look up Leviticus 14, to see what I mean.
What can I carry from this whole provocative story of the ten lepers, one of whom, the heretic Samaritan, did not do as he was told? I dare think it’s reminding me that my formal religious obligations, like “going and showing myself to the priests,” whenever I show up for church, are less pressing an obligation than offering heartfelt thanks to God more immediately, whenever and wherever I am healed and blessed by Him. I am liberated daily, from the “leprosy” of various self-centered fears, resentments, and other types of rabbit-holes into which I tend to descend, when I self-isolate from God and others. Thank You, Lord, from the bottom of my heart, that today I can walk forward and yes, also “show myself to the priests,” because faith in You and Your healing love for me empowers me to do so. “Arise and go your way. Your faith has made you well,” I hear You saying to me this morning. Thank You.