As an adult I found myself intrigued by the Harry Potter series. In it, witches or wizards whose parents are Muggles (ordinary people) are a genetic phenomenon. The series carries a strong theme of prejudice against those who are not full-blooded wizards.
A similar prejudice existed in Jesus’ day. The exact reasons behind the animosity between Jews and Samaritans have been lost to history, but the New Testament gives ample evidence of ethnic tension (see, for example, John 4:9; 8:48). Whether motivated by questions over ancestry or religious practice, a number of Jews treated Samaritans as outsiders. Some would even say they resented them.
In today’s scripture, we follow Jesus “going through the region between Samaria and Galilee,” which tells us that the Samaritan leper is not far from home. Jesus does not brush off these men as unclean lepers or treat them as second-class human beings. He heals them. Jesus does not reserve his healings for a special group; he responds to those who approach him in faith. While Jesus heals all the lepers, the Gospel of Luke emphasizes the faith of the one who returns. His faith makes him well.
Wherever we find ourselves in our faith journey, Jesus will respond if we reach out in faith. His actions challenge us to inspect our attitudes toward others. And in practicing the humility that allows us to consider others better than ourselves, we may be surprised at where and in whom we find great faith. Those outside our Christian circles might seem unlikely witnesses but often exhibit God’s redemptive work in bold ways.
When have you considered yourself better than others? When has your faith made you well?
Jesus, have mercy on me. Forgive my haughtiness. Remind me, daily, that you died not just for me but for the sins of the whole world. Amen.
One might have expected Jeremiah to advise the exiles to maintain their independence and be ready to return to Judah. Instead, he tells them to settle in, to build and plant, to seek the welfare of Babylon, even to pray for its prosperity. The judging purposes of God call for extended exile and not impa- tient rebellion. In the story of the ten lepers in Luke, one returns to praise and thank Jesus for giving him health. Only then do we learn that he is a Samaritan. The ultimate outsider becomes the model of faith. Second Timothy bears witness to the awe- some character of God that always honors divine commitments, thereby appearing to humans full of surprises. For the psalmist, God merits the worship of all the earth.
• Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you found yourself in exile? How did you cope with the situation? What reminded you that God had not abandoned you?
• Read Psalm 66:1-12. When has the testing of God brought you out to “a spacious place”?
• Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you ready yourself to pres- ent yourself as one approved by God?
• Read Luke 17:11-19. The writer states that Jesus’ question, “Where are the other nine?,” invites us to receive God’s healing of illness and inner wounds. What in your life needs God’s healing touch?
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