|Memorial, St. Frances Cabrini
Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
There are some very telling words in this reading about the healing of the ten lepers. The action takes place during the course of Jesus’ “journey to Jerusalem, (as) he traveled through Samaria…” The ten lepers he encountered “stood at a distance from him” and begged, “Have pity on us!” Jesus’ response was a verbal command, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” While on their way, on their journey, “they were cleansed." One of the ten, the Samaritan, the foreigner, “realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God…” Jesus replied, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?”
Was Jesus disheartened that the others had not returned to give thanks and glorify him? Is this only a lesson in showing gratitude and appreciation? Are there additional messages here?
The lepers asked Jesus for “pity.” Who generally asks for pity? The marginalized, the outcast, those who see themselves as dirty and unlovable, those who feel shame – not just about what they have done, but who they are. Jesus in his bountiful mercy cleansed the lepers of their unsightly disease and sent them to “show” themselves, to demonstrate their healing and worthiness to the priests, the authority. Only one of the cleansed, the healed, returned. Why would not all of them return to give thanks and praise?
Pity and mercy, sin and healing, invitation and rejection, offering and accepting forgiveness are primary themes throughout the gospels. Over and over again we are reminded of the bountiful gentle love and mercy of God as demonstrated by Jesus. Beyond the mercy is the invitation and desire that the healed return and abide with God. Healing is an ongoing process, continuing throughout the journey of life. Jesus himself journeyed through life experiencing life’s tragedies. The depth of shame and remorse and addiction can make it very difficult to accept forgiveness, to return to give thanks and praise. Our own sense of shame or guilt tends to keep us at a distance from God. We may see ourselves as walking lepers, while God lovingly sees us as healing on the journey.
What are the distractions that prevent me from responding to God’s bountiful love, mercy and forgiveness?
Am I able to see me as God sees me? How does God see me today?
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