Main readings: Jeremiah 29.1, 4-7; Psalm 66.1-11; 2 Timothy 2.(1-7) 8-15; Luke 17.11-19; [2 Kings 5.1-3,7-15c, Psalm 111]
Supplementary readings: Psalm 85; Luke 20.39-47; Jeremiah 30.1-9; Psalm 111; 2 Timothy 2.19-26
“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.” (Luke 17.15-16a)
With toddlers, a parent’s common refrain when giving them something is, ‘What do you say?’ and the expected response is ‘Ta’. My mother also instilled in me the habit of sending thank you notes. My sisters and I even sent flowers to the intensive care unit she died in. We have always kept the etiquette of gratitude Mum taught us.
In today’s Gospel reading, the single leper of the ten to return to Jesus and thank him was not, however, just being polite or following social niceties. His actions of gratitude were a spontaneous and humble response to God’s grace. All ten of the lepers received physical healing, but only one turned back to express gratitude, a fruit of his faith. An outcast on two counts, as a Samaritan and a leper, he received more than liberation from his disease – he was made whole through his faith. When he understood he had been accepted and made whole, he could only rejoice.
It is more than etiquette that stirs us to say “Thank you” to Jesus for his blessings. It is a response to the way Christ welcomes us again, and again, no matter who we are. This leads us to ask “who are the ‘outsiders’ we must welcome into our lives and our communities?”
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