Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 17:11-19; Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 9, 2022

Gospel of Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Let us Pray:  Dear God, thank you for the unmerited favor of your love. It is because of the faith you created in me that I have been saved, set apart to do your work, and received your grace. Through Christ, I have received grace upon grace. Father, I sometimes miss the mark and fall short of your will. Thank you for the grace you lavish when I falter in my faith. Praise You for grace upon grace.

If there was a single quality we could increase in our world today, it would be gratitude. As a people, Americans need to get this right. Philosophy matters. If entitlement, envy, and resentment overcome our better sense of gratitude, generosity, and goodwill, the price will be high. We won’t just be miserable—we’ll one day realize we let evil slip in through the front door. People seem to expect entitlements and praise and not think about saying thank you. Being grateful doesn’t cost much just a little time and a little appreciation. Research shows that grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism, and that the practice of gratitude as a discipline protects a person from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness. So why isn’t gratitude easy for us? Who doesn’t want to be happier and more successful? Gratitude, for all its merit, is not something easily embraced. We can see being gracious and thankful also wasn’t easy in Jesus’s time either. There are several takeaways from the story. The idea that gratitude is part of being “well” is certainly present. Only one out of 10 who were healed took the time to say thank you. It was only the Samaritan who returned to thank Jesus for his healing. But how is that evidence of faithfulness instead of thankfulness? Faithfulness is demonstrated in two ways. One, the Samaritan recognizes that mercy has come from Jesus, and returning to thank Jesus is a form of faithfulness to the mercy of God that has been made manifest; and two, the Samaritan’s thankfulness for his physical healing shows evidence of deeper, spiritual healing, which is our true salvation. Anyone can experience God’s salvation, shout with joy for it, praise God for it and walk along the same road Jesus is travelling. Between Samaria and Galilee, there is only the kingdom of God, in which salvation is available to all who call out for mercy and respond to God’s call with thankfulness and praise.

As we conclude let’s look at what this Gospel can teach us. God’s mercy is for all.  It matters not your status – rich or poor, sick, or well, men, women, children, people of all races.  It is for all of us! Jesus is there when we cry out to Him for his mercy.  Jesus delights in bestowing His mercy upon us.  Jesus had compassion.  God’s mercy will and should cause us to humble ourselves before Him. 

Will we be like the nine and go on our merry way because now things look so good for us, or will we be as the stranger who returned to Jesus after mercy was shown and fell at his feet with thanksgiving and gratitude for what He had done? Would Jesus tell each of us the same as he told the Samaritan:

“Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Let us Pray:  Father in Heaven, Creator of all, and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon us and receive our heartfelt gratitude in this time of giving thanks. Thank you for all the graces and blessings You have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal: our faith and religious heritage, our food and shelter, our health, the love we have for one another, our family and friends. Dear Father, in Your infinite generosity, please grant us continued graces and blessing throughout the coming year. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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