2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
1 Timothy 2:8-15
Peace be with you!
What does it mean to really see someone? Not just the parts you want to see, but the parts of the another person that make you uncomfortable and downright scared. It is unnerving to get to know another person’s darkness, and it is even more unnerving to let someone else to see your darkness. Getting to know someone and letting him or her get to know you is scary business.
Jesus is travelling between Samaria and Galilee when ten lepers approach him while still keeping their distance and call out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (Luke 17:11-13). The ten lepers are suffering from skin sores, nerve damage, and muscle weakness that only progresses over time with no cure or real relief. The lepers are segregated from society in Biblical times because of their unpleasant, deformed appearance.
Today our lepers are the homeless, the child molesters, the drug addicts, the alcoholics, the physically disabled, the mentally challenged, or [whoever “it” is] that make you uncomfortable or scared. These are the people we label as dangerous and cast away as unproductive members of society. At some point in our lives, we probably have all been treated as lepers. Perhaps we had a different opinion than society as a whole or perhaps we suffered ostracism of a popular clique in junior high. Whatever the case, we all know what it is like to be excluded.
The ten lepers call out and plead with Jesus to heal them (Luke 17:13). They are seeking someone to really see them for who they are – who God planned them to be, not just deformed individuals who are unable to tend to their own needs. Many of the individuals who are physically disabled that I meet (and even myself) are frustrated with how society as a whole treats them – as individuals unaware of the world around them. Individuals tend to think the wheelchairs, walkers, and other adaptive devices mean the person using them needs extra care and is less intelligent. When people tell my friends how saintly they are for helping me get out of the house, my friends usually exclaim, “Erin is the one getting me out the house!”
Jesus tells the ten lepers to go and show themselves to a priest. They all go and are made clean (Luke 17:14). Jesus recognizes the ten lepers as individuals in need of being made clean and healed. They are individuals who are suffering unnecessarily; they came to Jesus out of faith that he will make them whole. The ten lepers listen and put their trust in Jesus when they follow his command to go and see a priest. Today we see Jesus in others when we make pleas for healing, forgiveness, and grace. Doctors tell us to take medicine when we are sick; personal trainers push us to exercise when we want to sit down; friends and family members catch us when we fall after a mistake. Jesus uses individuals to see our darkness and to show us the light.
Out of the ten lepers, only one leper, a foreigner, comes back to see and worship Jesus (Luke 17:15-18). All ten lepers were made clean and healed, but only one realizes Jesus has made him whole. Jesus says to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19). Jesus sees and recognizes the healed individual as the one who has leprosy; the individual who was previously a leper sees and recognizes Jesus as the Lord who has made whole. The individual who is now clean experiences a change in his life’s direction. He is no longer the unpleasant, disabled person shunned by society, but he is an active member of society. Not only that, but his own sense of worth has increased and has made him whole.
We do not need to experience a physical healing to be made whole. A battered woman who finds the courage to end an abusive relationship experiences being made whole when she reclaims her life. She stops allowing someone else to controls her every decision and movement, and she decides what she needs and wants and who she is as an individual. The power of making decisions and claiming your voice and personality gives a person a sense of worth to live in the world.
In reality, we are all lepers with no business entering the Kingdom of God. We all have dark places and secrets that we dare not share with others, because they are outright damning. These places and secrets are things we ourselves would like to forget, and they hold us back from feeling whole and having relationships with others. Thankfully God comes into the world through Jesus Christ, dies on the cross, and conquers death in order to restore our relationship with him. We are made whole through Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for seeing us as individuals able to carry out your plan despite our “leprosy.” Help us to feel whole and give us a sense of worth to be in healthy relationship with others and you. Allow us to see each one another as we really are without passing judgment. Remind us to have faith that you will care for us, despite our darkness. Thank you for making us whole through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1.How are you a leper?
2.How has your faith you whole?