How familiar we have all become with ‘distancing!’ Standing (or sitting) on those 1.5 metre dots became common practice as we tried to keep ourselves safe from the other who may have been infected with the dreaded Covid19. It is said, that although this practice was for our safekeeping, it has had a lasting effect of our being more suspicious and wary of each other.
Imagine the position of the leper in the time of Jesus. By law, anyone with the disease had to be cast out, alone, ringing warning bells and crying out, ‘unclean, unclean’ if they came within sight of the healthy. They were totally isolated from family and all human support.
In our gospel today we hear the familiar story of the ten lepers who stood at a distance and made their simple plea to Jesus, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’ Obviously, Jesus was moved by their plight and told them to present themselves to the priest who, after some detailed rituals, pronounced them clean. No doubt great rejoicing followed. They were restored to the possibility of all the supports of human flourishing, love, acceptance, esteem, meaningful work, future possibilities. But only one returned to express gratitude to Jesus, and he, a ‘foreigner.’ How could the others neglect to do this? They were restored to life.
What about us? How is our expression of gratitude? Do we take the many gifts of life for granted or are we too concentrated on the challenges? In the acclamation welcoming the Gospel this week, we proclaim, ‘For all things give thanks to God, because this is what he expects of you in Christ Jesus!’ One way to develop grateful hearts is by pausing each night to recall, even write down, all we are grateful for as we look over the day.
St. Luke’s Gospel is one of journey: the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem where, by his death and resurrection, the reign of God is established. In the final encounter between Jesus and the grateful man this reign breaks through. The man is lifted up and commended for a faith he didn’t know he had.
As people of faith, let us rise up, face life and live in that rhythm of faith and gratitude.