Archive for category Leprosy

Luke 17:11-19 The Cleansing of Ten Lepers

If we are observant with what is happening around us we can notice that some people give yet they remember, remember and remember. While some people get, get and get and yet they forget. To which group of people do you belong? I hope and pray that you do not belong to both groups of people. Because as Christian we believe that it is more blessed to give without remembering and to receive without forgetting.

The theme of  today’s Gospel is gratitude – receiving without forgetting. “Gratitude,” said jazz musician Lionel Hampton, “is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”

What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it–would you be likely to give them another? God is the same way. Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that God has to offer, that  life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have: your life, good health, marriage, children, family, loved ones, friends, faith, job, achievements, success and beautiful world.

This is the central message of Gospel. If you still remember there were ten lepers who were shouting for mercy to Jesus in order that he may heal them and set them free from the curse of leprosy. And Jesus, out of great mercy, did what they requested. What happened next. Only one returned. He was Samaritan, a foreigner who is considered  an outcast, just like tax collector, public sinner, and pagan. While the other nine who were the Jews never dared to returned. Perhaps each of the nine has the following possible reasons:

One waited to see if the cure was real.
One waited to see if it would last.
One said he would see Jesus later.
One decided that he had never had leprosy.
One said he would have gotten well anyway.
One gave the glory to the priests.
One said, O well, Jesus didn’t really DO anything.
One said, just any rabbi could have done it.

Whatever that is, the fact that nobody returned to thank and praise God remains the same. But the story did not end there. What happened to the one returned? What did he received in return? His gratitude was not only praised but rewarded beyond his expectation. The nine received physical healing; the one who returned to thank the Lord received in addition the salvation of his soul.  Hence, a favor, a blessing, a gift received with gratitude is a gift multiplied.

“As stewards of God we must be truly appreciative of the things we receive.  One has said that, ‘Ingratitude is a crime more despicable than revenge which is only returning evil for evil, while ingratitude returns evil for good.’  You remember that of the ten lepers healed by Christ, only one returned to give thanks.  A beautiful legend tells the story of two angels that were sent forth throughout the land, each given a basket, one to gather up requests and the other thanksgivings. The angel of requests came back with her basket running over full. The angel of thanksgivings came back with her basket practically empty.  So it is in life.  It seems that all have requests to make, but few of us think to return and give thanks” (Heber Q. Hale  –  “Conference Report”, October 1919, p.172).

At the end of the day, try answering this question asked by William A. Ward: “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”

Prayer: “Lord, may I never fail to recognize your love and mercy. Else, let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you (Ps 137:1)! Fill my heart with gratitude and thanksgiving and free me from pride, discontentment, and ingratitude.   Help me to count my blessings with gratefulness and to give thanks in all circumstances.”

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Mark 1:40-45 The Cleansing of a Leper

“It is hard for us today to imagine the awful condition of the leper in New Testament times. He was considered legally dead. But, worse, he was considered morally unclean. Forbidden to enter any walled city—lashed thirty-nine times if he did—he wandered, muffled to the eyes, crying ‘Unclean!’

“Under Jewish law, no one could greet him. Under the law, no one could approach within six feet of the leper—one hundred feet if the wind came from his direction. Any building he entered was considered defiled and had to be purified. The common practice was to throw stones at or run and hide from any leper who approached.

“Such was the man who came to Jesus. What compassion and greatness he must have sensed in the Master to break the law in this manner. And what was the response? Against all law and tradition, Jesus reached out and touched the leper and by His touch cleansed him of his filthiness. By His touch, to save His brother, Jesus descended lower than any man—exactly as He did, later, to save each of us.

“We are that leper, each of us unclean in his own way, each of us crying, ‘If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’ Each of us trusts that because of His infinite love, we will receive His touch.” (William B. Smart, Messages for a Happier Life: Inspiring Essays from the Church News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 136.)

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Reflection: Be made clean. The Jews consider leprosy as a curse from God, a punishment for serious sins. Lepers are numbered among the living dead. They are social outcasts, an embarrassment to their families and to the community.

The Book of Leviticus prescribes that one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp (Lv 13:45-46). Lepers are forbidden to enter the city or the Temple. No one is to speak or mingle with them. Anyone who touches a leper is considered unclean and impure, prohibited from participating in any Temple sacrifice and worship.

Jesus does exactly the opposite: he interacts with a leper. He stretches out his hand, touches the leper, and speaks with him. His actions show his compassion and love for the leper. Jesus heals the leper so he may be reinstated into the community and restored in his dignity as a child of God.

What Jesus sees in us are not our mistakes, failures, or sins but our contrition and desire to be healed and made whole. Jesus wants that our hearts be cleansed from bitterness, our eyes from malice, our minds from revenge, our lips from lies, our hands from hurting, and our lives from selfishness and slavery to sin. Jesus is telling us now, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Sympathy is not enough; compassion is expressed in good deeds.

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