Reflections - October 9, 2016

“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”  Lk. 17:13
 
The Gospel presents to us with the healing of the ten lepers.  This text of the Gospel of Luke is enriched with the First Reading that speaks to us of the healing of Naaman, the head of the Syrian army and a pagan that found in the mercy of our God healing and conversion.  As a sign of his appreciation Naaman tells Elisha:  “….I will build an altar to the Lord and I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the Lord”.
 
Also in this week’s Gospel we find ten lepers.  Who were these men?  They were not, as in the case of the First Reading, important men.  They were humble people who had lost everything, economy, family, and friends and who were separated from society.  They “were called impure”.  However, faith and hope come back to play an important role against the fatalism of resigning themselves to their disease thinking that nothing could be done.  Jesus, coming from Jerusalem, meets up with them.  Jesus saw in their faces their suffering and in the plan of salvation was “compassion”.  This gesture of compassion translated into “liberating the people of their suffering”.
 
They were freed from their illness, but of the ten healed lepers only “a foreigner returned to give thanks to God”.  That is why Jesus told the Samaritan:  “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you”.
 
This grateful man is healed and saved, and as a friend would say:  “he won the big prize of the lotto”.  Of course, the prize that Jesus gives him is much more.  It is eternal life.  Remember:  “a grateful human being has a special place in the heart of Christ”.
 
Also in this affirmation of Jesus, “your faith has saved you”, there is something that I would like to highlight.  For the people of Israel sin and forgiveness was understood to be a debt with God contracted by you or by an ancestor as a result of an offense against the law.  In this way these brothers lived in a permanent state of sin or of debt to God and no one dared to have contact with them as a measure of hygiene and to not become contaminated by their sin.  Remember the famous phrase of Jesus to the Apostles about the blind man from birth:  “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”  Jn. 9:3.
 
I feel that when Jesus forgives unconditionally or frees someone from the power of evil He is forgetting all of that person’s past.  The only thing that is needed is faith and repentance:  “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you”.  This is a profound teaching that Jesus gives us about compassion and solidarity for those who suffer as victims of disease or of sin.
We should ask ourselves as we receive communion today:  “How do I practice compassion and solidarity with those who suffer?  Does the suffering of my brothers and sisters touch me?  Do I try to help them to find the Lord?  When I pray do I give thanks to the Lord for so many blessings, my family, health…..and faith, a gift from God?