Our Sarah just moved into her new apartment in central Florida. Typically, I have only worried about hurricanes in the past when they hit the gulf coast because I have family there. Now as Hurricane Matthew nears the Atlantic coast I find myself paying more attention than usual. This is potentially the worst hurricane in decades.
That realization gave me pause as I thought about Sarah's safety and then about those in the path of this huge storm. Every indication is pointing to potentially catastrophic devastation. Hundreds of thousands of people are being told they must evacuate their homes and businesses.
In this week's Gospel we see Jesus interacting on a personal level with those who had experienced a life altering, devastating illness that required them to be "evacuated" from society to protect the general population.
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Luke 17:11-19
Obviously the healing of the lepers is an important part of this Gospel. However the unknown backstory of the lepers is important. Imagine these people living their lives when an illness appears that changes everything. Leprosy had no cure so lepers had to be completely quarantined from the rest of society. Think of the "storm" they faced in their personal lives, as leprosy separated them from everyone and everything they knew and loved. Forever! If they were healed and approved by the priests they could return to society but that rarely happened. That is why the response of the ten men is so important to the message here. Their lives had been given back to them. Most likely they had no hope of ever returning to their normal lives and yet Jesus restored everything. And yet only one of the ten returned to thank God his savior.
Take note of what Jesus says to the one who did return. "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." The man has already been healed of leprosy. Jesus is now speaking of the man's salvation. Shouldn't the others be just as grateful?
Shouldn't you and I? If we've trusted our life to Jesus as savior He has restored us to the life we are intended to have. A life with God that lasts forever!
Glory to God! Thank you Jesus!
I feel compelled to pray! "Lord God you are our creator and redeemer. We trust you in all things. As this storm nears the densely populated coast may you protect all who are in its path. Comfort those who have already lost loved ones and their homes. In the end you are the true savior. Please protect those in harm's way that they might gratefully give You the glory. In Jesus mighty name I pray."