Fr. Bob Warren's Week Reflection from Franciscan Friars of Atonement: Ten Lepers
is a certain irony and pathos in our gospel. We have ten lepers, but
only nine were Jews. The odd man was a Samaritan. He was unwelcome in
Jerusalem, uncomfortable in its temple. As St. John's gospel tells us,
Jews did not share things in common with Samaritans. This Samaritan was
welcome only to the nine Jews because they shared Hansen's disease...
they were lepers.
law said that lepers were to be kept outside of the camp. All ten were
outcasts. All ten huddled together on the margin of two societies, or
as Luke puts it, along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. The scene is
ironic and pathetic because only the Samaritan returned from his healing
to Jesus, the Jew. Only the Samaritan came back to say "Thank You!"
Ten said "Please." One said "Thank You." Thanks for removing my
leprosy, my alienation from the human race, for restoring me to human
society. Most importantly, thanks for the faith that removed my
alienation from God, restoring me to His divine friendship.
parting sentence is unforgettable. "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." Your faith has brought you salvation.
broke all kinds of rules. He moved close to lepers. He touched them.
He even cured them on the Sabbath. Always, His first concern was not
law, but people. Not religion, but life and love. This is the only
place in the gospel that we find Jesus insisting on the duty of
gratitude, of saying thank you. When we go to Mass we celebrate the
Eucharist, which means "thanksgiving." But it is only a genuine
thanksgiving if we, ourselves, become Eucharists.
see, we still have lepers today. We all have them. People that you and I
might feel uncomfortable with, people we have forgotten, people whom we
do not care to know about. People we keep at a distance, who we would
rather keep outside the camp. In our modern day society, the aging are
often isolated. They live alone, are even shunned. In some cultures, the
elderly are honored and esteemed. They are the elders of the land, the
think we need a new beatitude. Blessed are those who seek out the
elderly and share life with them. We have made them lepers long enough.
Perhaps, there are others with whom we feel uncomfortable—like those
struggling with problems of alcohol and drugs. Or the many divorced
people trying to put their lives back together. Perhaps we feel
uncomfortable with our neighbor who does not have a job. Only we know
who our lepers are, the ones we keep at a distance, outside our camp.
our gospel, Jesus does more than feel sorry for the leper. He moves
from concern to action. But Jesus does not walk our streets. We do. We
only have to remind ourselves that Jesus can only do this today if we do
it. It is us who have to reach out and touch, and not just offer a
sign of sympathy. Usually, we can find a host of good reasons for not
getting involved—very human reasons that can imprison us inside
ourselves. I am afraid of being rejected. I have enough problems of my
own. I am terribly shy. I had a rough day. A thousand and one excuses
and some of them might even stand up in court. But they are not very
is a Christian? Someone who prays? Someone who is baptized? Who
worships God? Yes, a Christian is all this and more. Jesus told us what
Christians are meant to be. We are the salt of the earth. We are the
light of the world. We are the leaven in the bread. Didn't He also tell
you to feed the hungry? Visit the sick, the poor and the dying? Because,
you see, compassion is just another name for Christian.
Paul tells us that in the end, only three things will last—faith, hope
and love—but the greatest of these is love. So when you finish reading
this today, say a prayer of thanks. Give thanks for the ordinary things
in life that we, so often, take for granted. Your life, your faith,
your family and loved ones. But most of all, thank God for His greatest
gift to you, His Divine Son. The Son you can receive each time you
come forward to receive the Eucharist. The Son who will heal you no
matter who you are or what you have done.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
P.S. Beginning on October 19th,
the Friars of the Atonement will celebrate two very important
celebrations of faith. The friars will honor St. Anthony of Padua in a
Special Novena of Masses beginning on October 19th and continue on with our second Special Novena of Masses celebrating the Feast of St. Jude beginning October 28th. Join with us by sending your most heartfelt petitions to me now. I pray that St. Anthony and St. Jude bless you with their loving patronage for all the good you will do in Christ's name.