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Lk 17: 12-19

12. ten men who were lepers: This healing story is unique to Luke's Gospel. The re­quirement that lepers stay outside the encampment is found in Num 5:2-3, and that they should shout to warn others away from them, in Lev 13:45-46. Here they shout, but for help.

13. master, have mercy on us: This is the only time Jesus is called "master" (epistates) by someone not a disciple (cf. 5:5; 8:24, 45; 9:33, 49). The cry "have mercy," echoes that of the rich man to Abraham (16:24). Jesus will hear it again in 18:38-39. The showing of "mercy" (eleos) to the people is part of the expectation concern­ing the visitation of God (see 1:50, 54, 58, 72, 78).

14. show yourselves to the priests: The command is the same as in the first healing of a leper, except in the plural (see the note on 5:14 for the background).

15. he glorified God: A standard response in Luke-Acts to the working of a wonder (5:25-26; 7:16; 13:13; 18:43; Acts 4:21; 11:18; 13:48); for "falling on the face" (that is, prostration), see 5:12, and for Luke's use of "at the feet," see 7:38; 8:35, 41;

10:39. The passage provides a cluster of typical Lukan expressions. Only the presence of "giving thanks" (eucharistein) is surprising.

16. this man was a Samaritan: Like the hero of the parable in 10:33, the Samaritan gives a positive example, this time of faith rather than love. The shock is that it is given by one regarded as an "outcast," only marginally part of "Israel." For Luke's special interest in Samaria, see 9:52; 10:33; 17:11; Acts 1:8; 8:1, 5, 9, 14, 25; 9:31; 15:3).

18. except this foreigner: Luke uses the term allogenes, the only time it is used in the nt (see Lev 22:10-13, 25); he uses allophyles to the same effect in Acts 10:28. All the lepers were outcast, but none more so than this foreigner; yet he is the one to recognize the visitation of God in the prophet.

19. your faith has saved you: Luke uses the same phrase to conclude a healing in 7:50;

8:48 and 18:42. Notice the contrast to the request put by the apostles in 17:5.

In a word, these sayings addressed to the Prophet's followers are not comforting but demanding. They are, indeed, deflating. And this may pro­vide a clue to the inclusion of the next healing story immediately following these statements (17:12-19). Luke introduces it with one of his reminders that the Prophet was continuing his journey toward Jerusalem, and with whatever damage to his reputation as a geographer, places Jesus in the terri­tory between "Galilee and Samaria" (17:11). The healing is found only in Luke, and represents an expansion of the cleansing of the leper in 5:12-16. Besides the difference in number, however, this story focuses our attention on two features. The first is Jesus' power to heal which now appears to need not even a formal declaration. The second—and the real point of the story—is the response of those healed. They all required some faith, after all, to leave to show the priests. They all were in fact cleansed. But only one returned to praise God and thank the one who healed him. And he was an outsider.

The healing of the Samaritan leper provides Luke with a transition in his story of the Prophet heading toward his death. The story points back to the instructions to the disciples: they were all as outcast as the Samari­tan; they were all forgiven, cleansed, healed. They cannot assume another status than that of those who are gifted. They are not to expect thanks, but rather are to give thanks to the one who has saved them. The "faith that saves" of the Samaritan reminds the apostles—for whom the temptation to assume the role of "master" rather than of "slave" is endemic—of the absoluteness of the faith that has been given them (17:5-6): so dramatic has been the turn in their own lives that they are like trees that have been up­rooted and transplanted in the sea. For this they can never stop giving thanks to the master, never arrogate to themselves the status of master.

The story of the Samaritan leper also points forward to the next encoun­ter with the Pharisees in 17:20, for when they ask about the coming of the kingdom, Jesus can tell them, in effect, "look around you, here it is." In Luke, the performance of healings is the effective sign of the kingdom.



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