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Luke 17:11-19

The Word of God

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."

Luke 17:11-19
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    • Jesus said to the Samaritan who returned to thank him, ‘Your faith has made you well’. All ten were cured, but only one was able to understand the full meaning of what had happened to him. Lord, give me an open heart that is capable of being grateful.
    • I may spend today’s prayer time bringing to mind some of the benefits I have received from God and thanking him most sincerely. I listen to his gentle voice commending my faith.
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    • In returning to Jesus, the Samaritan heard Jesus bless and encourage him. Taking time to be grateful and addressing myself to God allows me to receive a deeper blessing in hearing God’s response.
    • Saint Ignatius prizes gratitude highly; it is an attitude that keeps us aware of how we are blessed and of who blesses us. If I can graciously receive the gratitude of others, I allow what God does to be appreciated and recognised.
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    • The Jesuit writer Tony de Mello used to say that you cannot be grateful and unhappy. There is so much to be grateful for, and we need to remind ourselves of this from time to time. In the great joy at their cure, the other nine lepers forgot the greater joy that they were the recipients of this wonderful yet unearned gift. Let me spend some time counting my blessings and being grateful for them.
    • Jesus tells the Samaritan, 'Your faith has made you well'. I thank God for the gift of faith, which makes me more capable of facing life with all its suffering and contradictions. I ask the Lord Jesus to strengthen my faith.
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    • Notice how Luke draws attention to the marginalised situation of the lepers. They are regarded as unclean and forced to live outside of towns and villages. Even when approaching Jesus they keep at a distance. Curing a leper restores that person to their community.
    • Notice also how the location of this event (the region between Samaria and Galilee) may explain the unusual racial mix in the group of lepers. It is as if a shared marginalisation allows mutual distrust and hostility (between Jews and Samaritans) to be overcome.
    • All ten lepers have faith; but only one experiences deep gratitude. The Samaritan goes out of his way to thank Jesus in person. How much do we take God's many blessings for granted, or worse still, as our entitlement?
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    • How long does gratitude last? These lepers were respectful, even fawning, when they were still suffering: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. In their misery they joined forces, waiving the old hostility between Jews and Samaritans. But when they saw their leprosy healed, and felt themselves whole, nine of them took their blessing for granted and forgot to say thank you.
    • Lord, all through my life I have known kindnesses; there have been people whom I thanked after a big favour, using inflated language - that I would never forget them. But my gratitude grows cold. Let me count my blessings, never take them for granted.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • How long does gratitude last? These lepers were respectful, even fawning, when they were still suffering: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” In their misery they had waived the old hostility between Jews and Samaritans. But when they saw their leprosy healed, and felt themselves whole, nine of them took their blessing for granted and forgot to say thank you. I have done it myself, Lord. I go looking for something, advertising my need, seeking sympathy. And when somebody helps me, part of me is muttering He was only doing his job, or what you’d expect of a neighbour. I take kindness for granted, and do not bother to say Thank you. It was the stranger, the Samaritan, who took the trouble to go back to Jesus and became an icon of gratitude. The other nine went for a drink, feeling – Sure that’s only what the rabbis/ doctors/healers are there for. Lord, all through my life I have known kindnesses; there have been people whom I thanked after a big favour, using inflated language – that I would never forget them. But my gratitude grows cold. Let me count my blessings, never take them for granted.
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    • Gratitude oils the wheels of life. What have I taken for granted this day, for which I can now be grateful?
    • The ten ordinary miracles of my life: health, my senses, family, love, friendship, meaning, nature, beauty, music, laughter. Let me thank God daily for them. Are there other little miracles I would add?
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    • Yet again things are turned upside down. It is a Samaritan, an outsider who alone expresses his gratitude and faith. Jesus is upset at the lack of gratitude of the other nine. He knows that God is the giver of all gifts and deserves our gratitude. Do I ever praise God?
    • I thank you, Lord, for your forgiveness when I am ungrateful. You never take back your gifts or punish me. And for my well-being today, for my relationships and for all that you have bestowed upon me, I am truly grateful.
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    • When we are in great trouble and distress many of us in desperation turn to prayer. We intercede with all our hearts for an answer to whatever the difficulty is that we are in. We plead for help, crying out as the lepers did from the depth of our being. And Jesus responds to our prayer in a way that is best for us. But we can forget, so often, to say ‘thank you’.
    • Jesus, let us never to take you for granted, your touch in our life can warm us and heal us and make us whole. You will never abandon us Jesus, help us to give thanks to you and give honour to your Holy Name.