Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
The gospel lectionary in Luke 17:11-19 invites us to join Jesus as he walks through the region between Galilee and Samaria while still on his way to Jerusalem. We find ourselves about to enter a village, but just then some voices call out. If we are looking forward to rest and something cool to drink after the long walk, we need to place our wants on hold. Jesus pauses, looks around him and sees who is calling. (The layout of the content below offers a bit of visual “space” and “distance”—illustrating the distance which haunts the persons and their lives in the narrative, and then showing how this distance is overcome and healed by Jesus)
Ten lepers are standing at a distance – a distance
demanded by social and religious custom. Any one
suffering from a skin disease was considered unclean,
and could not live in their own house or village, nor
join others for worship at the synagogue or temple,
but must stay out in the countryside. And if others
walked by, these lepers were required to call out,
“Unclean! Unclean!” as a warning signal for others
to keep their distance.
And so these ten lepers stand at
a distance, but call out as they
see Jesus walking toward the village.
“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
When Jesus sees them, he pauses
and, taking note of their sickness
and how their skin disease kept them
at a distance from their families,
their work, their villages, and
all places of gathering for
worship, he speaks back—across
the space—words of instruction,
and healing: “Go and show your-
selves to the priests.”
It was the custom – according to the Mosaic law –
that any one who was healed from a skin disease
is to be welcomed back into the community
through a ritual of cleansing; see Leviticus 14:1-32.
The ten lepers hear Jesus, and begin to make
their way to where they know the priests can
be found. And as they go, suddenly, they
realize that they are clean. Their skin has
Nine continue on their way, but one—
when he sees that he has been
healed, turns back, and begins
praising God with a loud voice.
Now his shouting is praise!
He turns back and comes close to
where Jesus is standing. Finally, he
can come close. No longer must he
stay at a distance and yell anything
he wants to say across the divide.
This man prostrates himself on the
ground at Jesus’ feet and thanks
him for this healing and freedom to
Jesus notices that only this one
has returned and come close – and
he is a Samaritan.
It is into the painful and restrictive spaces in our world, in our lives, that Jesus comes, with healing and transformation. Cultural, social, emotional, religious, and physical walls come down, and we come close, even as Jesus comes close to us. We come close to each other – around and with Jesus. He is our healer and our peace-maker. Here, in the presence of Jesus we see each other as Jesus sees us. We learn to receive each other as Jesus receives us.
Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus Christ,
In this season of Pentecost
You come to us by your Holy Spirit.
Help me to welcome you,
To be with you as you indwell my life and being.
Help me to hear you,
To see as you see,
To turn to you in trust and faith,
And to learn to love you above all. Amen
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
TWENTIETH WEEK AFTER PENTECOST
- 10/4 Monday: Luke 17:11-19
- 10/5 Tuesday: Luke 17:11-19
- 10/6 Wednesday: Psalm 111
- 10/7 Thursday: 2 Timothy 2:8-15
- 10/8 Friday: 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
- 10/9 Saturday: Luke 17:11-19
- 10/10 Sunday: Luke 17:11-19