Today’s Gospel: Luke 17:11-19
In today’s reading, ten lepers ask Jesus to heal them. Of the ten, only one returned to thank and glorify Him. The one that returned was a Samaritan. (Here’s a great article explaining why that’s a huge deal.)
I’ve read this story several times, but I didn’t notice before today that Jesus healed them, “as they were going.” I’d love to think that I would have been the one leper who returned to thank God for his healing, but I’m pretty sure I would have been one of the nine that continued on about my business. I ask God to help cleanse me all the time–from my pride, selfishness, sloth, anger; the list goes on and on and on. Then, I go on my merry way, and most of the time, I fail to recognize the ways that God is answering my prayers (cleansing me) as I go.
In a lot of ways, what happens at every Mass mirrors the story of the ten lepers. We approach the altar in need of healing from the Divine Physician. We receive Jesus in the Eucharist and are cleansed from our venial sins. We are healed, we receive a blessing from the priest, and he sends us out into the world. I love what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website has to say about the Concluding Rites:
After the blessing, the deacon dismisses the people. In fact, the dismissal gives the liturgy its name. The word “Mass” comes from the Latin word, ” Missa.” At one time, the people were dismissed with the words “Ite, missa est” (literally meaning “Go, she—meaning you, the Church—has been sent”). The word “Missa” is related to the word “missio,” the root of the English word “mission.” The liturgy does not simply come to an end. Those assembled are sent forth to bring the fruits of the Eucharist to the world.
When the Samaritan leper returns to thank Jesus for healing him, Jesus says, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Likewise, God commissions his priests to send us out into the world to bring Jesus to everyone we meet. As we go, we’ll stumble because of our brokenness. That’s the time to come back to the Divine Physician to ask for healing. If you’re like me, your life looks like a spin cycle of sin, sorrow, repentance, cleansing, and thanksgiving. So long as we’re human, we’ll be in need of healing, and as we grow in our relationship with Him, we’ll grow more aware of our brokenness. God doesn’t reveal our brokenness to shame us; He reveals it to us so that we yearn to be cleansed like the leper.
The more we come back for cleansing with true contrition, the more God will strengthen us to avoid sin in the future. The gift is seeing the cleansing as we go, thanking Him for it, and asking Him for the strength to break the cycle of sin.
Do I believe that God will heal me if I ask Him? Do I remember to watch for the healing as I go? Do I remember to thank Him?
God, thank you for being my Divine Physician. Thank you for healing me with your infinite mercy. I am sorry for all of the times I have failed to choose You. Please help me to see the ways that you heal my brokenness. Show me how I can bring Your Son to the world so that He can heal others through my life. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Catherine Boucher