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Lk 17: 12-19

Per Jesus’ custom, he did not go from Galilee to Jerusalem by crossing over to the East side of the Jordan, but went right through Samaria. We note that in one village there were ten lepers, one of whom was a Samaritan. Perhaps their quarantine and mutual misery drew them together.

Where was this village located, Galilee, Samaria, or Judea? The text doesn’t say. Since Jesus referred to the Samaritan as a foreigner or stranger (.18), the implication is that the village was in Galilee, perhaps near the border with Samaria. Cyril of Alexandria (4th-5th century) interprets it this way also (Commentary on Luke, Chapter 17).

The lepers seemed to know who Jesus was, yet they kept their distance in obedience to the Mosaic Law. The text doesn’t mention them crying out "Unclean! Unclean!" as required by the Mosaic Law, but they probably did this at first. As we do often in the Liturgy, they cried out, "Have mercy on us!" The first thing Jesus said was, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they went to show themselves to the priests, they were healed. Given that Samaritans were despised by Jews, we can only wonder whether the Samaritan leper could find a priest that would even stoop to look at his condition, never mind perform all the sacrifices required by the Mosaic Law. The Samaritan, perhaps realizing this and knowing that it was a Jew who healed him, returned and glorified God with a LOUD VOICE, falling down at Jesus’ feet.

The healing process here can be summarized by three words: cleansed (v.14), healed (v.15) and made well (v.19). The nine were cleansed and healed but not made well because they forgot to express their gratitude. They were satisfied too early with too little.

Cyril comments on this as follows, "And why did (Jesus) not rather say, `I will, be ye cleansed’, as He did in the case of another leper (Matthew 8:2) but commanded them rather to show themselves to the priests?...He commanded them to go, as if being already healed, that they might bear witness to the priests, as the rulers of the Jews and ever envious of His glory, that wonderfully and beyond their hope, they had been delivered from their misfortune by Christ’s willing that they should be healed" (Ibid.). This occurred in 30 AD as Jesus headed for Jerusalem and the Cross (Luke 17:11, 18:31-33). A little over a year later (Pentecost, 31 AD), a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the Faith (Acts 6:7).

When Jesus sent all ten lepers to show themselves to the priests, they still had the leprosy. Since they were cleansed enroute, Jesus expected (and common courtesy would also dictate) that they should return to express their gratitude before going through the eight day purification required by the Mosaic Law. This can be a lesson for us, also. Have we ever been given a gift from the Lord, where we know it’s His Will that we pursue this gift, but yet forget to take time out from our busy schedule to say thanks?



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