when we read a story so familiar, it is worth asking those 5 simple journalistic
Who, what, where, when, and why?
Asking them of the story, and of our own lives.
borderland between Samaria and Galilee
headed to Jerusalem
Samaritan Leper gave thanks in the borderland between Samaria
and Galilee, as Jesus headed to Jerusalem,
because he was healed!
Who, a Samaritan Leper.
Gospel is chock full of Samaritans
—Jesus enters a Samaritan village,
He tells his famous story about the
and today, only a Samaritan responds
with thanksgiving for the good thing Jesus has done for him.
the Samaritans were the ultimate Other, the singular Stranger in Jesus’ world.
presence of Samaritans should be unsettling—scandalous
even! Their presence in the Gospel ought to attack any stereotypes we might hold, attack any instance of prejudice we might participate in. The Gospel disallows it!
only that, the Samaritan’s presence in Acts also reminds us that the Gospel is
for everyone, it ought to go out
unto all the earth!
After the resurrection, when the
Disciples wanted to keep their faith in the upper room, God threw them out onto the streets.
When the followers of Jesus wanted to
keep the Gospel as a Jewish only thing, God
got Stephen and Cornelius and Paul involved.
When Paul wanted to preach only to people
in Asia Minor, God sent him the vision of
the man from Macedonia and
he and Timothy crossed the Aegean Sea and onto his missionary work in Europe.
When the Gospel went wobbly in Algeria, God
sent St. Augustine.
When it stalled in Gaul,
God sent St. Patrick.
You get my point here—the Gospel is
meant to be shared, with everyone!
with this Samaritan, representing an
attack on prejudice, we ought to ask ourselves, “Who have I pre-judged?”
with this Samaritan, reminding us of the wideness of the Gospel message we
ought to ask ourselves, “Who have I chosen not to tell about Jesus?”
What? He gave thanks.
a simple phrase, “Thank you,” yet
profound in its power. Medical professionals suggest “Thank you” re-shapes our
brains for the better, and heightens our level of enjoyment of life. Gratitude
makes the things we are grateful for more valuable, it connects the giver and
the receiver in a bond of kindness.
that matter, just listen to the thanks we give God during Holy Communion, “It
is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all
places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and merciful
God, through our Savior Jesus Christ.”
with songs of praise and thanksgiving, observing the thankfulness celebrated in
today’s gospel, let’s take a moment to ask ourselves, “What am I truly thankful
Where? The borderlands between Samaria and
space between two peoples.
for a second, who lives there—Lepers, both
Samaritan and Jewish—they are united in their misery.
This is a common thing, isn’t it?
People pushed to the sides of life
find each other, misery loves company. They value one another beyond race or
religion, because they see that spark of similarity in their common suffering.
yet, in these spaces—the in-between spaces, we also find Jesus,
Jesus entering in, finding, and
Jesus in the crevasse where loose change settles and lost people find one another.
There they saw one another as humans based
on common suffering
—there Christ calls them into a
greater unity based on their common humanity.
a moment one of the tragedies of our modern life. These in-between spaces—what
sociologists term 3rd spaces—are disappearing from society.
Places that are neither home nor
work, are going the way of the Dodo,
we’re abandoning them in droves.
Spaces where you might safely meet someone very different from yourself, are disappearing. Elks clubs,
Bowling Leagues, Churches… all places to run into lepers of all sorts and maybe
entertain Jesus unaware. There is a
dearth of them in our present culture.
to this borderland we might ask, “Where are my third spaces?” “Where
have I found myself in unexpected company?” “Where has Jesus met me?”
When? As Jesus headed to Jerusalem.
Jesus journeys to the site of his death, and
his resurrection, he brings death and resurrection to these 10 lepers.
Their designation as unclean, unable to enter society and mix freely with
friends and family
—all this dies, and they rise anew,
clean and changed, new people.
Jesus entered their social death and
dragged them into a healed life!
the face of this dying and rising, we can ask ourselves, “When have I found
death and resurrection in my life?”
Why? Because he was healed!
sermons on this story focus here, on this question, “Why” … but focus in a
different way. They ask, “Why him, but
not the others?” Sometimes the other lepers are accused of a ridged
religious response, going to the priest
without recognizing the Christ in their midst.
Other preachers ask the question, “Why
didn’t the 9 return?” and shame
congregations for lacking attendance
those who are not in worship, not there
to defend themselves AND making the congregation in attendance feel bad for not having 9 times as many
people in the pews…
But that’s just silly.
The only question we can rightly ask
is “why him?”
even more importantly, the only answer we know is: “because he was healed by
Jesus, Saved by Jesus!”
And that is our answer as well. A+A