Sermon Summary for Sunday, October 13, 2019
Respectfully submitted by Brenda Worley
The Gospel reading for this Sunday was Luke 17:11-19. This scripture shares the story of the ten lepers who begged Jesus for mercy in the region between Samaria and Galilee. Jesus said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” As they went on their way to do just that, they were made clean. One of the ten, a Samaritan, upon realizing that he had been healed, turned and prostrated himself before Jesus to show his gratitude. The other nine did not return to say thank you. Jesus tells the Samaritan that “your faith has made you well.”
In the time of Jesus leprosy was broadly used for anyone with a skin condition ranging from allergic reactions to Hansen's disease. Those afflicted were looked upon as dead and cast out of society to dwell in a special place or colony in the wilderness, living in caves or tents. In ancient Israel lepers were commanded to wear certain clothes, keep themselves a certain distance from people, wear special bells, and they had to cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” if someone was too close. The rabbis viewed leprosy as a chastisement from God because of immoral behaviors. To rejoin society the leper had to be declared “ceremonially clean” by the priests.
Though Jesus was pleased with the Samaritan, he made note of the other nine who did not return to show their gratitude. Though they were Jews, they did not return to praise the Master who had healed them.
Clean and well are not the same word in Hebrew and do not mean the same thing. Well means that you are whole, saved and have God in your life. It might be said that the one leper who returned to give thanks was made clean and well, while the other nine were simply made clean. To be well we must be in relationship with God. Clean is physical while well is spiritual. Being well means that you live your life with full knowledge of who and whose you are.
As we all know we are called to show our gratitude through returning our gifts – time, talents, and treasures – for the work of God. That gratitude will help us realize that all our gifts come from our Creator and thereby, will help us aim toward that goal of “being well.” Mother Mary shared a story from a colleague about a couple who, from the day of their marriage, promised to tithe to the church. When asked what had brought them to this decision, they responded, “We are afraid of the people we would become if we did not say thank you.”
All that surrounds us – land, sky, water, possessions, memory, reason, skill – are from God. We are called to give back to God and creation as a way of saying, “Thank you.” Be the one, not the nine.