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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Today’s Reading | 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.” (NRSV)

I’ve always found Jesus’ reaction in this passage to be a tad bizarre and perhaps you have too. If I didn’t know better, it would seem as though Jesus was miffed that his good deed wasn’t rewarded with widespread praise—just like we all bristle when we don’t get credit for something that we’ve done. And yet, this is the same figure who told us to give in secret in order to not be praised (Matthew 6:2). So what gives?

There is undoubtedly a political aspect to Luke’s presentation, as the emphasis on the thankful man’s status as a “foreigner” and a “Samaritan” stands out on a Gospel that is preoccupied with the universalism of Christianity. However, today I’ll leave this aspect to your own ponderings. Instead, I’d like to focus on how difficult the mere act of saying “Thanks!” can be. If you are like me, you have a hard time accepting gifts or help from others. Many of us (perhaps nine out of ten of us . . .) operate under the mistaken ethic that we need to do everything ourselves and that we are to be caregivers, not care receivers. To thank someone for their help is to admit that we were not able to do something by ourselves. Instead, Jesus’ probing questions at the end of this passage remind us that we are called to acknowledge help when we receive it. We do this not just for the other person’s benefit, but as an act of humility that reminds us of how we are called to give and receive. I encourage you all to contact at least three people today who have helped you in the past week and to thank them, recognizing how indebted we all are to each other and how indebted we are to God’s grace and love.

God, help remind me that I do nothing on my own. Thank you for all the times you have touched my life, not only in the difficult moments, but the joyous ones as well. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Minister for Children and Families

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