St. Mark's Episcopal Church

124 North Sylvia Street - Montesano, WA, 98563

Pentecost 18, October 9

Jer. 29:1,4-7, Ps. 66:1-11,II Tim. 2:8-15, Luke 17:11-19 18th Pentecost, Proper 23C (2022) 1 Have you ever attended a meeting or event and endured a few minutes (or more) of abuse aimed at the people who didn’t come? Have you ever wanted to raise your hand and say, “Well, we’re here can we move on with the program/agenda?” I wonder if this healed Samaritan felt just like this. And, then I wonder, why did he return to thank Jesus? If Jesus was headed South toward Jerusalem, he would have just crossed the border from Galilee to Samaria. The local priests would have been Samaritan and part of that order so this man would have been okay going to one of them to show he was clean and no longer a social and religious outcast. Since they were on the border, I suppose the lepers might have been a mix of Jews and Samaritans. So, the man is truly there to thank Jesus out of abundant gratitude. And, he gets cranky Jesus who complains the other 9 didn’t come to thank him, too. This healing is indiscriminate. The 10 lepers ask for healing from a respectful distance and in faith, they do as Jesus tells them and head out to see a priest. As they walk, they begin to have feeling in their extremities because the bacteria that causes leprosy kills the nerves and the lack of feeling and pain causes folks to not notice injuries. I remember reading a book by Dr. Paul Brand who was born to missionaries who served in India. He became a medical doctor and eventually specialized in Jer. 29:1,4-7, Ps. 66:1-11,II Tim. 2:8-15, Luke 17:11-19 18th Pentecost, Proper 23C (2022) 3 leprosy from his work in India. He tells a story in his book of an encounter in his clinic. He had developed specialized rocker shoes for his leprosy patients because he noticed this: he would do extensive work on someone’s feet removing dead tissue and the person would walk away with a normal gait. Someone without leprosy, someone who could feel their feet would alter their gait to make allowances for sore spots. We do this every day without realizing it. This patient had no sore spots because he couldn’t feel his feet. The book’s title is: Pain-the Gift Nobody Wants by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. I know diabetics who live on the streets who have received major burns due to the lack of feeling in extremities-it’s why diabetics will often lose limbs. Neuropathy is no fun. Diabetics have the added issue of slow healing. So, I’m wondering about these 10 lepers who were healed by Jesus. They were social outcasts and that causes a lot of emotional pain. They would have had distorted features and that would have caused people to look away when they saw them. And, they would have been houseless with all the day to day issues around that. I wonder as they walked along and were made clean, if the first thing they felt was pain-in their feet, their hands, their faces-any kind of extremity. They surely had lived with emotional pain-now they could experience physical pain again. What a weird transformation! Jer. 29:1,4-7, Ps. 66:1-11,II Tim. 2:8-15, Luke 17:11-19 18th Pentecost, Proper 23C (2022) 5 And then there is the reality that they can return to a normal life. How easy would that be for them? They would have been written off as lepers-would they be greeted with open arms by their families, their friends, or by whomever was managing their businesses? As they walk toward the outcome they had requested-all ten asked Jesus to heal them-did they realize that their lives might not be that easy to take up again? What was different about this one Samaritan who returned to thank Jesus? I have no idea but I like speculating. He was healed and he found great joy in that. His request had been answered. He didn’t need to enter the phone numbers of the other 9 into his iPhone, he could simply be joyful and grateful. So how does this translate to us today? Leprosy is treatable with antibiotics-it’s not a disease that threatens to send us to a leper colony to die someday. It isn’t particularly prevalent in our part of the world though Dr. Brand ran a leprosy clinic in the Southeast United States in recent history. I would say we can relate to this cured leper by offering prayers of thanksgiving for whatever gifts we receive-whether healing, whether a long remission from a threatening illness, access to good healthcare, even the gift of pain, or just living another day would be a place to start. Recognizing that Jesus passes us each and every day-is hanging around with us on Jer. 29:1,4-7, Ps. 66:1-11,II Tim. 2:8-15, Luke 17:11-19 18th Pentecost, Proper 23C (2022) 7 borders, in doorways, in our homes and we can ask for things we need. We can also offer gratitude for our lives-no matter what state we are in because each day is a gift.