Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Another Good Samaritan

The Gospel reading today is very popular, and it is one of my favorites, but that does not mean that I understand it completely. There are multiple layers to the Gospels, layers which Biblical scholars have not even discovered. I seem to find new meaning every time I go back to reread different passages from the Bible. I also find that I am better able to apply them to the different situations that I am going through presently. The Bible might seem like a dry read, but if you take time to take in the true meaning of the words and symbols, you will see how much it has to offer you.

The Gospel reading today starts out with Jesus traveling to Jerusalem, where He will suffer and die according to God's plan. However, He stops in northern Samaria, still far from His destination, where He meets ten lepers. Contrary to most people's assumptions, leprosy, in Jesus's time, was not as severe as Hansen's disease, which is literally a wasting away of the body. Instead, it was a general classification that could have included many different skin diseases. In ancient time, people thought that those plagued with leprosy were not victims, but were, instead, signs of God's judgement. 

The lepers called out to Him, asking for mercy, and, going against Jewish precedence, Jesus gave his attention to them. Human nature usually guides our decision of whether or not to notice the sick and the dying. This might be because we are to busy or because it makes us uncomfortable, but, nevertheless, we ignore them. This is something that we must all overcome. I believe that this is one of the areas that I definitely need to improve in. We seem to get caught in a life that we see as comfortable, which makes it tough for us to step out of our comfort zone. However, the only way to grow is to try something new, and to leave the comfort of your everyday life, just like Jesus does. 

Jesus tells the lepers to go and show themselves to the priests. The lepers were healed as they completed Jesus's commandment. This does not mean that they were simply healed, medically, they were also made to be able to enter society again as regular people. 

One of the men that was healed saw that Jesus deserved thanks, much like Jesus saw the lepers. The twist is that the man that came back to thank Jesus was a Samaritan. The Jewish people hated Samaritans, seeing them as less religious, which is ironic, since a Samaritan is the hero in this story. The ultimate outcast turns out to be a model of the Catholic faith. Luke, the Gospel writer for this story, was a foreigner, and he enjoyed writing stories in which the foreigner turned out to be the hero. 

Jesus wonders where the other nine are, but He realizes that they are not returning. Therefore, He tells the man to go, for his faith has saved him. In this instance, the word 'healed' translates to the word 'saved'. Therefore, ten were healed, but only one was saved.

How often do we stop to thank God for all of our blessings? Are we willing to take the time, like the Samaritan, to thank God, or are we like the other nine, who are too busy to stop and celebrate thanksgiving?


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