Reflection for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
2 Kings 5:14–17
Naaman in this story is an Aramean Commander who was a leper. His slave girl was Israelite and told him to go to the prophet in Samaria for a cure. This he did and Elisha, the prophet, told him to plunge himself seven times in the Jordan. Naaman was upset by this because he wanted Elisha to come out and wave his hands over him and call upon God to cleanse him. But one of his servants said “Hey, try it!” and that’s where we take up the story. The dirt thing was because people thought the Gods were Gods of the Land.
2 Timothy 2:8–13
We skip down a little bit from where we left off last week. We skip a section where Paul is talking about his own sufferings and how he is suffering for the Gospel. What we have today is the end of that section where you can see that he is sharing about his own suffering as an encouragement to Timothy to be faithful. Note that he states that his willingness to suffer is his desire to serve those to whom he ministers.
Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Lk 17b-18
I take this Gospel selection to be about faith, about faith and gratitude, gratitude that our faith is being fulfilled. And, it seems to me that it is about faith in Jesus Christ. It’s unlike the teaching about faith we heard last week (Lk 17:5-6) which is about faith in God in general. Note that it ends with the comment from Jesus, “…your faith has saved you.”
The reason I point this out is that some Scripture scholars say the lepers may not have been asking for a cure; maybe they were asking for alms, as often lepers of Jesus’ time did. They also point out that when Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest, that a cure wasn’t expected because that wasn’t in Jesus’ message. I find that far-fetched if only because I would have thought Jesus was just trying to get rid of me. If I were asking for alms, I certainly wouldn’t have gone were He told me unless there was some indication that I could get alms there.
Also, I think it significant that they knew Jesus by name. They had heard of Him and must have heard of His cures. Surely, I think, they were asking for a cure from this miracle worker. They believed, from the stories that He could do it and, I think, they trusted, in some sense, that He would cure them or they would never have left, without a question, to show themselves to the priest as He told them.
Lepers were excluded from the community, by Mosaic Law, based upon examination by the priest (Leviticus 13:1-46). They were returned to the community based upon another examination that determined if their leprosy had gone. Why would they go without question to the ones who declared them unclean in the first place unless there was some chance they would be declared clean again?
Why did only one return? This one, obviously, is placing his faith, for the future, in the Lord. He recognized that it was the Lord who saved him. The others, evidently, were continuing to place their faith in the Law. When Jesus said “…your faith has saved you.”, he must have meant ‘your faith in me, Jesus, that I could and would, save you.’ Maybe this was written when fewer and fewer Jews, but more Gentiles, were accepting Jesus.
And the others… what’s their story? They must have had some faith, or at least hope, or they wouldn’t have gone to show themselves to the priest as Jesus told them to. Maybe they experienced life as a series of events over which they had little control and viewed their healing as simply one of those events, albeit a good one. Maybe they didn’t understand that it is through faith in Jesus that we truly enter into the gift of life God gives us.
And so, what is the message to us? Have faith that the Good News of Jesus Christ is good news. Develop an attitude of gratitude and discover how often, and how wonderfully, God is present in our lives. An attitude of gratitude helps us become aware of God’s action in our lives and, thereby, helps us grow our faith. And finally, trust, by extension, that “the way” Jesus teaches is the way to the fullness of life.
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. Lk 17:14c-19
What words or phrases grabbed your attention during the Liturgy of the Word on Sunday? What connection do those words or phrases have to your day-to-day life? (Why do you think they grabbed your attention?) What might God be trying to say to you through these words or phrases? What response should you make? What action should you take?
Share about/Reflect upon something good
that life has given you. How is this a
gift from God? Did you originally experience it as a gift from God? How have
you shown your thankfulness? What can you do to more readily recognize the gifts
God gives you as gifts from God?
Verse by Verse
Lk 17:11 | This is a continuation of the journey begun in Lk 9:51
Lk 17:11 | The Greek says, literally, that he passed between Samaria and Galilee meaning in between. This is geographically impossible since they share a border. Many explanations have been given for Luke’s comment. Luke is oftentimes noted to be a poor geographer. Maybe this comment is just preparing the way for one of the ten lepers to be a Samaritan.
Lk 17:12a “…lepers…” | This is not modern leprosy (Hansen’s Disease), but a scaly skin disease as described in Lev 13:1-44.
Lk 17:12b “They stood at a distance…” | Lepers were not allowed close to others for fear that they would make the other ritually unclean. See Num 5:2-3 and Lev 13:45-46.
Lk 17:13b “Master, have pity…” | This is significant in Luke who, otherwise, only has this term used by Jesus’ own disciples. The lepers recognized him, at least, as a “master” whether they were claiming he was their master, or not.
Lk 14b “Go show yourselves…” | Some Scripture scholars point out that this does not necessarily imply they are, or will be, healed. This raises the question, then, of why Jesus told them to show themselves to the priest. They had, presumably, already been seen by the priest and declared unclean because of their leprosy. Why would they go again, if not to be declared clean?
Lk 17:15 “…realizing he had been healed…” | The Greek emphasizes the word “realizing” as if it is some kind of awakening. Maybe this points to his realizing, in a profound way, that it was Jesus who saved him.
Lk 17:16a “…fell at the feet of Jesus…” | This is literally “fell upon his face at his feet”. He prostrated himself as you would before a king. Possibly he recognized Jesus’ greatness as God, or as an agent of God.
Lk 17:16b “…and thanked him.” | This is the only place in Scripture where Jesus is thanked personally.
Lk 17:19a “…stand up and go…” | No longer does he have to stand away from the community as a leper, he can now stand up as himself.