Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 144

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.”

Gospel Lk 17:11-19

When I read this Luke’s gospel several things come to mind. First is Luke’s background so that I might understand the message of Christ he is delivering to his audience. Second is that disease leprosy that Jesus is healing. The third is mention of the Samaritan.

Luke’s background becomes important because he is thought to be either a Greek pagan, or a lax Jew living in a strongly Greek area. His history indicates that his audience might not be interested in the feud that existed between the Jews of Jerusalem and the Samaritans. Of interest might be that this Samaritan came back to Jesus in thanksgiving. That Samaritan had much in common with Luke’s audience as they too were pagans. While the healing of the ten lepers was miraculous, that one Samaritan might have easily represented them. To those Hellenic people that Samaritan could have been the proof that Jesus healing was not limited to the Jews of Jerusalem,  but was universal in its scope.

In looking at leprosy, it can be viewed as a disease and it can be viewed by its physical traits. Leprosy in a biblical sense does not simply apply to people. In the bible buildings too can have leprosy on their walls. Though in medical terms Hanson’s disease is the contagious disease of leper colonies it also is any number of diseases that disfigure the flesh. In ancient Jewish culture it also was a disease that rendered people or objects unclean. For people that rendered them unclean and outcasts from society until the priest declared them clean. For the ten lepers who Jesus sent to the priest, they were on their way to be declared clean. Once declared so, they could then reenter society.

What about that Samaritan though? Though the cleansing of that disease similar to Hanson’s disease might have resolved one uncleanliness, how could he journey to the priest to be declared clean? He was Samaritan and not Jewish. His ethnicity and religion rendered him as unclean as that disfiguring disease of the flesh. If the other nine had been Jewish they could reenter society, but not that Samaritan. In looking at those ten lepers, perhaps nine of them cleansed of their rash went back to their old colony. When the Samaritan was cleansed though he did not choose to journey back to that same old colony. He chose to journey towards what Christ preached. The kingdom of God.

(When that Samaritan realized he had been cleansed of his leprosy, his giving glory to God, and his thankfulness towards Jesus was unique. His was not only a cleansing of a skin ailment, but more important a cleansing of a culture that had oppressed him and disfigured his life. That was the leprosy of hatred towards Samaritans and a culture of nations and ethnicities that existed as though they each were individual leper colonies forever shouting unclean towards each other. Colonies of Jews, colonies of Greeks, colonies of Romans, colonies of Samaritans. Leper Colonies, all of them.)

col·o·ny

noun \ˈkä-lə-nē\ .headword .ld_on_collegiate { margin:10px 0 0 0;padding:0 0 0 19px; width: 405px;} .ld_on_collegiate p {margin:0 0 10px 0;padding:0;line-height:20px; } .ld_on_collegiatep.bottom_entry {margin:0 0 3px 0;padding:0;line-height:20px;} #mwEntryDatadiv.headword .ld_on_collegiate p em, .ld_on_collegiate p em { color: black; font-weight: normal; } #mwEntryDatadiv.headword + div.d { margin-top: -7px; } .ld_on_collegiate .bnote { font-weight: bold; } .ld_on_collegiate .sl, .ld_on_collegiate .ssl { font-style: italic; }

: an area that is controlled by or belongs to a country and is usually far away from it
: a group of people sent by a country to live in such a colony

: a group of plants or animals living or growing in one place

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