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The cleansing of ten lepers

Gospel Reading: Lk 17:11-19
As [Jesus] continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”


God can use little people to proclaim his glory, but at times we refuse to recognize God in his humble instruments. The slave girl who served Naaman’s wife spoke to her lady about Elisha, a man of God in Israel who, she said, could heal Naaman’s leprosy. The slave girl had been seized during a raid staged by the Arameans in Israel. As the army commander of King Aram, Naaman would not normally listen to a prisoner of war.

But he must have wanted to be healed of leprosy so badly that he followed the advice. Laden with precious gifts, Naaman brought a letter from King Aram for the King of Israel, seeking a cure for his leprosy but making no mention of Elisha, the healer suggested by the slave girl. The King of Israel considered it blasphemous that somebody should come to him for healing.

When Elisha learned of this, he sent word to the king to have Naaman come to the prophet. After virtually snubbing Naaman as the latter came by the door, Elisha instructed the commander to go and wash seven times in the Jordan. Naaman found this unacceptable because the rivers in his country were much cleaner than those in Israel. God’s humble instruments again intervened in the person of Naaman’s servants.

They said that if the prophet had required him a spectacular remedy, he would surely obey. Why would he reject a simple way of finding a cure? Naaman heeded the words of his servants, plunged into the Jordan River, and his flesh became like that of a child. He was grateful to Elisha, offering him a gift. When the prophet refused the gift, Naaman thought of an uncanny way of thanking God.

He brought two mule-loads of earth from Israel back to Aram, presumably for building a sanctuary to honor the God of Israel. Naaman’s story prepares us for the Samaritan leper in the Gospel. Like Naaman, the Samaritan is considered a “foreigner.” He comes to know of God in Jesus because he needs a cure. God does not only cure his leprosy; God gives him total healing or salvation:

“Your faith has saved you.” The Samaritan is healed of his pangs of loneliness and despair and feelings of unworthiness. He knows he cannot follow the other nine lepers who were healed. Unlike them, he cannot show himself to the priest since he is a Samaritan. The Jews may forever regard this Samaritan as a “leper” because he is different from them, but it no longer matters to him. Jesus has already taught him how to treat all people equally, and the Samaritan is now set to celebrate life in everyday thankfulness!

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.