By Brian W. Grant
Jesus has set off on his journey to Jerusalem and Golgotha and stumbled upon the most stigmatized people of his time. In this borderland, where Jews and Samaritans live across invisible boundaries on the same streets, he meets ten lepers. Any of today’s healers would find it challenging to redeem the lives of a handful of undocumented HIV-positive immigrants with the wrong religion. It’s a daily dilemma to parcel out our finite healing power among the world’s desperate poor.
For Jesus it seems easy. He utters the healing words, and the story gets really interesting. The lepers go off to their priests as instructed; one man looks down and notices that his lesions have vanished. Unlike the nine who continue to the priests, he turns back, praises God, and thanks Jesus profusely. Then we learn that he is Samaritan, a foreigner, who has allowed Jesus to add a saving relationship to the gift of healing.
We don’t know what happened after the story, but we see possibilities. The man who returned makes himself available for a life-changing personal encounter. Jesus, through his gift, has created an opening to extend the scope of his love into a community his fellow Jews consider inferior and accursed.
When we have healing gifts to offer, is it always those most like us who respond with gratitude and transforming relationship? Or perhaps more importantly, when we have received the offer of release from our diseases, can we allow ourselves the grace of a grateful response, uniting us with the divine Giver, even if that Giver comes with a foreign face? a different religion? a different set of political loyalties?
God of all peoples, save us from the easy assumption that those who share our citizenship, our race, our faith, are those most likely to bear your love for us. Keep us building bridges. Amen.