Gal. 3:16-22; Lk. 17:11-19
Luke remembers Jesus who had an eye for the poor and lowly, and so, once again, as in last Sunday’s Gospel of the Good Samaritan, a Samaritan is the hero of our Gospel today.
We have a certain insight into Jesus in today’s Gospel. Leprosy was greatly misunderstood in our Lord’s day. It was considered highly contagious and the result of sin. So the leper lived a life of terrible isolation. People would give them a large girth when passing them by. In fact, they had to wear a bell around their necks so that before the leper was seen, he was heard, and could be avoided.
The Lord heals the lepers. He never heals as a display or to enhance Himself in the eyes of others. As He heals the lepers, he tells them to show themselves to the priests. This is so the Old Testament prescription for healing could be verified, and they could return to the people of God. Jesus gives healing and grace, so that people may be able to get on with their lives, to know the love of God and neighbor, and to benefit from the blessings of religion.
Only one returns to give thanks. Gratitude puts us in contact with the giver. When my niece was a small child, celebrating her birthday one year, I can remember my sister-in-law, sitting next to her. Whenever she would open a gift, she would whisper, “Open the card first.” The gift is a symbol. What are also given are the thoughts and wishes of the giver, which are part of a relationship. Gratitude, brings it full circle, encounters the giver, and fosters the relationship.
How much more important, then, to recognize the gifts and graces God has given us, to see them as signs of His drawing near to us in our lives, and then to express our gratitude to Him, not grasping at the gift, but standing in awe before the Giver.
The word, “Eucharist,” in the Greek, means thanksgiving. By gifts of faith and the forgiveness of our sins, the Lord has called us into His Church, we are the People of God formed, gathered, by the Eucharist, where He gives Himself to us, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The Gift is the Giver. And so, here we are, those who have come back, to give Him thanks.