The Pharisees and the Scribes have identified themselves as righteous and they set themselves apart from those they judged as sinners. They would not want to associate with them and certainly would not dine with them. This mentality creates a big gap between those who identify themselves as righteous and sinners. The righteous receive lots of privileges and rule over others. Jesus, on the other hand, takes an opposite approach by associating with those who genuinely follow His way of life. Jesus teaches the new way of life, judging the Pharisees and Scribes' mentality as hypocrites. He himself actually worked on making the change. His first act was on His way to Jerusalem. This implies Jesus was on the way to where He would face the cross and die for all. By carrying the cross and through His resurrection, Jesus saves us all. His new way of life would exclude no one. His salvation is for all mankind. His second concrete action was that He chose to travel along the border between Gentiles, foreigners, Samaria, and Galilee. This again indicates Jesus would erase all social borders; especially the invisible border of exclusion created by prejudice. Seeing Jesus from afar, the ten lepers called out for help. These men lived on the outskirts, a 'no man's land', because their society had expelled them and they were not allowed to the neighbouring border, Galilee. Jesus' third act makes the inclusive teaching even clearer by healing the ten lepers. He publicly welcomes the marginalized, the outcast, and those that the society at the time judged as unclean and sinners.
The title 'Master' in St Luke's Gospel was exclusive to Jesus' disciples. Calling Jesus as their Master, the lepers indirectly expressed their inner desire to follow Jesus' way of life. He told the lepers to 'Go and show yourselves to the priests'. They obeyed Him. They went to see their former foes. Being expelled from the community would mean he is a dead man walking. He would live in bitterness for life. Jesus told them to show themselves to the priests. It is an act of reconciling and restoration of the relationships between the leper and the priest, who represents the community. On their way to see the priests, they were healed. One of them immediately came back to praise God. Surprisingly, the leper who returned to give thanks to God was a Samaritan. Jesus healed both his physical disease and his spiritual blindness. By returning to give thanks to God, the Samarian reveals the meaning of the opening words of today's Gospel reading, that Jesus was 'On the way to Jerusalem'. It reveals Jesus is not an ordinary priest but The High Priest.
The way in which Jesus healed the lepers reflects the biblical creation's story. God simply gives a command and things will be. The Samaritan leper believed, Jesus Himself is God, and that Jesus confirms his belief that He is God. The Samaritan leper returned and 'Praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him'. He recognized the power of God in Jesus' words. All ten lepers were healed and yet only one returned to give thanks to God. The other nine took the healing for granted and that reflects the reality of life.
Which of the two sayings of Jesus we would like to hear: 'Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you'v.19. The other one is, 'Were not all ten made clean? the other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner'v.18.
We fail to recognize that we are blessed in numerous ways and yet often take things for granted. We would never give thanks enough for what we have received from God. Giving thanks to God daily is not only a noble thing to do, but rather a meaningful way we express our gratitude to God, and that is what God loves to hear our voice. We all prefer to hear 'Your faith has saved you'. If then, remember to give thanks to God daily.