Our Gospel reading today is from Luke 17:11-19. It’s one of the more famous stories of Jesus. As Jesus walks along there is a group of 10 lepers calling out to him “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” Without even as much as a thought Jesus says to them “Go show yourselves to the priest.” As they are walking away they are cleansed of their malady. Leprosy is a terrible disease yet only one of the lepers that Jesus heals comes back to say thank you! The leper that returned was a Samaritan.
It would be easy to think that this story (as well as the first reading from 2nd Kings 5:14-17) is all about gratitude. While that may be true, I think there’s a deeper meaning here. Both the lepers who were cured and Naaman from the first reading are not Jewish. These readings may be more about charity than giving thanks. The recipients we hear about, Naaman and the Samaritan, are outsiders. This turn of events puts a whole new spin on the old quote “charity begins at home.” I think will all agree that charity does begin at home, but the challenge of the two readings today is that it cannot just stay there.
Charity is a gift we give to anyone who needs help. It doesn’t matter if they are ungrateful, deserving or what race or nationality they might be. We must look beyond the stereotypes we apply to those who receive our help. Naaman was a king, the leper was a Samaritan. It didn’t matter to God who was who, it only mattered that one of his people needed help. That’s all that should matter to us too!
Peace and All Good!