Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute



OCTOBER 9, 2016

Alleluia, Alleluia.

In all circumstances, give thanks, 

for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Gospel of Saint Luke 17: 11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.  As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.  They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!

And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”  As they were going they were cleansed.  And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked himHe was a Samaritan.

Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

The Gospel of the Lord



By now, we are familiar with Saint Luke’s use of the phrase: Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem.  This phrase is not so much an indication of geography, as it is an acknowledgement that Jesus is determined to let nothing dissuade Him from going to Jerusalem even though He knows that it will mean His death.  Yet, even though He is intent on His journey to His Passion and Death, He shows no hesitation to stop and respond to ten individuals who have been carrying their crosses of leprosy for years.

The term leprosy (lepros in Greek) occurs 68 times in the Bible; Thirteen times in the New Testament alone.  In the Scriptures the term refers to any skin condition that looked suspicious.  Not only did these conditions most times imply physical suffering, but the identified person was socially and religiously ostracized.  Lepers had to live on the fringe of society, and were forbidden any human contact.

In the Gospel, a story of leprosy takes on a more significant role.  It involves not only the leper and his plight, but the story also exposes the way people treated lepers and all those that they thought were inferior to them because of physical conditions, social status, or religious purity.  In other words, biblical leprosy addresses both the physical disease, as well as the spiritual deformity of the on-lookers who are contaminated by selfishness which ostracizes anyone who is not good enough for them!  From this perspective, the Gospel is a condemnation of self-righteousness, as well as a demonstration of the Lord’s mercy for the abandoned, the isolated, and the forgotten.

In their desperation, the ten lepers cry out with one voice: Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!  This is one of only three occasions in the Gospel in which Jesus is called upon for help by name.  The lepers are making their request on the most personal level, and yet, at the same time, the Gospel is identifying the significance of praying in the name of Jesus, who is the all-powerful Master!

Saint Paul in his Letter to the Philippians provides an early Christian hymn that celebrates the sacredness and power of the name of Jesus: God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2: 9-11).

One out of the ten lepers who were cured returned to thank Jesus.  With today’s economic conditions, a ten percent return on an investment would be considered good.  Thankfully, God is not a Wall Street investor.  While only one returned, Jesus was sent by the Father for the salvation of all.  The Good Shepherd is always searching and on the lookout: Where are the other nine?

Thanksgiving is the hallmark of a true and deep conversion of heart.  The process begins by crying out for the Lord’s attention and mercy; God responds by offering healing of body and soul.  In turn, we, lepers need to be open to God’s merciful healing, and to be grateful for His generous love.  It is no accident that after a week of receiving God’s blessings, we, the Church gather for the celebration of Mass, the Holy Eucharist which means THANKSGIVING!  Weekly, we demonstrate the depth of our spiritual conversion from the world’s ways to the way of God by offering the Eucharist – the greatest expression of Thanksgiving.

Like leprosy, sinful selfishness begins in a small way.  Self-centeredness begins with small gestures, but soon it can infect more and more of our relationships, especially our relationship with God. The Gospel alerts us that we must be constantly vigilant that we do not fall victim to biblical leprosy in which we even forget to thank God for the blessings we have already received: the healing waters of Baptism, the forgiving power of Reconciliation/Penance, and the life-giving power of the Holy Eucharist!



Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com



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