Wednesday - Ordinary Time
1) Opening prayer
God of power and mercy,
protect us from all harm.
Give us freedom of spirit
and health in mind and body
to do your work on earth.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Luke 17,11-19
Now it happened
that on the way to Jerusalem Jesus was travelling in the borderlands of Samaria
As he entered
one of the villages, ten men suffering from a virulent skin-disease came to
meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, 'Jesus! Master! Take pity
When he saw
them he said, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' Now as they were going
away they were cleansed.
cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw
himself prostrate at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan.
This led Jesus
to say, '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.' And he
said to the man, 'Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.'
• In today’s Gospel, Luke gives an account
of the cure of the ten lepers, of whom only one thanked Jesus. And he was a
Samaritan! Gratitude is another theme which is very typical of Luke: to live in
an attitude of gratitude and to praise God for everything which we receive from
Him. This is why Luke says many times that people were admired and praised God
for the things that Jesus did (Lk 2, 28.38; 5, 25.26; 7, 16; 13, 13; 17, 15.18;
18, 43; 19, 37; etc). The Gospel of Luke gives us several canticles and hymns
which express this experience of gratitude and of thanksgiving (Lk 1, 46-55; 1,
68-79; 2, 29-32).
• Luke 17, 11: Jesus on his way to
Jerusalem. Luke recalls that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, passing
through Samaria to go to Galilee. From the beginning of his journey (Lk 9, 52)
up until now (Lk 17, 11), Jesus walks through Samaria. It is only now that he
is leaving Samaria, passing through Galilee in order to reach Jerusalem. That
means that the important teachings given in these last chapters from the 9th to the 17th were all given on a territory which was not Jewish. To
hear that must have been a great joy for Luke’s communities, which were from
Paganism. Jesus the pilgrim continues his journey toward Jerusalem. He
continues to eliminate the differences or inequalities which men have created. He
continues on the long and painful road of the periphery toward the capital
city, from a religion closed up in itself toward an open religion which knows
how to accept others as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same
Father. This openness is manifested also in the acceptance given to the ten
• Luke 17, 12-13: The calling out of the
lepers. Ten lepers went close to Jesus; they stopped at a distance and
called out: “Jesus, Master! Take pity on us!" The leper was a
person who was excluded; was marginalized and despised; and had no right to
live with the family. According to the law of purity, lepers had to go around
with torn clothes and uncombed hair, calling out: “Impure! Impure!” (Lv
13, 45-46). For the lepers to look for a cure meant the same thing as to seek
purity in order to be able to be integrated again into the community. They
could not get close to others (Lv 13, 45-46). Anyone who was touched by a leper
became unclean and that prevented him from being able to address himself to
God. By means of crying out they expressed their faith in Jesus who could cure
them and give them back purity. To obtain purity meant to feel again
accepted by God and be able to address him to receive the blessings promised to
• Luke 17, 14: The response of Jesus and
the cure. Jesus answered: "Go and show yourselves to the priest!” (cf.
Mk 1, 44). The priest had to verify the cure and bear witness to the purity of
the one who had been cured (Lv 14,1-32). The response of Jesus demanded great
faith on the part of the lepers. They had to go to the priest as if they had
already been cured, when in reality their bodies continued to be covered with
leprosy. But they believed in Jesus’ word and went to the priest. And it
happened that, along the way, the cure took place. They were purified. This
cure recalls the story of the purification of Naaman from Syria (2 K 5, 9-10).
The prophet Elisha orders the man to go and wash in the Jordan. Namaan had to
believe in the word of the prophet. Jesus orders the ten lepers to present
themselves to the priests. They should believe in the word of Jesus.
• Luke 17, 15-16: Reaction of the
Samaritan. “One of them, seeing himself cured, turned back praising God at
the top of his voice; and threw himself prostrate at the feet of Jesus and
thanked him. The man was a Samaritan”. Why did the others not return? Why only
the Samaritan? According to the opinion of the Jews of Jerusalem, the Samaritan
did not observe the law as he should. Among the Jews there was the tendency to
observe the law in order to be able to merit or deserve or acquire justice.
Thanks to the observance, they already had accumulated merits and credit before
God. Gratitude and gratuity do not form part of the vocabulary of the persons
who live their relationship with God in this way. Perhaps this is the reason
why they do not thank God for the benefits received. In the parable of
yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus had formulated the same question: “Must he be
grateful to the servant for doing what he was told?” (Lk 17, 9) And the
answer was: “No!” The Samaritan represents the persons who have a clear
conscience that we, human beings, have no merits or rights before God.
Everything is grace, beginning from the gift of one’s own life!
• Luke 17, 17-19: The final observation
of Jesus. Jesus observes: “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?” For Jesus, to thank the others for the benefit received is
a way of rendering praise that is due to God. On this point, the Samaritans
gave a lesson to the Jews. Today the poor are those who carry out the role of
the Samaritan, and help us to rediscover this dimension of gratuity of life.
Everything that we receive should be considered as a gift from God who comes to
us through the brother and the sister.
• The welcome given to the Samaritan in
the Gospel of Luke. For Luke, the place which Jesus gave to the Samaritans
is the same as that which the communities had to reserve for the pagans. Jesus
presents a Samaritan as a model of gratitude (Lk 17, 17-19) and of love toward
neighbour (Lk 10, 30-33). This must have been quite shocking, because for the
Jews, the Samaritans or pagans were the same thing. They could have no access
inside the Temple of Jerusalem, nor participate in the worship. They were
considered as bearers of impurity, they were impure from birth, from the
cradle. For Luke, instead the Good News of Jesus is addressed in the first
place to the persons of these groups who were considered unworthy to receive
it. The salvation of God which reaches us through Jesus is purely a gift. It
does not depend on the merits of any one.
4) Personal questions
• And you, do you generally thank persons? Do
you thank out of conviction or simply because of custom? And in prayer: do you
give thanks or do you forget?
• To live with gratitude is a sign of the
presence of the Kingdom in our midst. How can we transmit to others the importance
of living in gratitude and in gratuity?
5) Concluding prayer
Yahweh is my
I lack nothing.
In grassy meadows he lets me lie.
By tranquil streams he leads me. (Ps 23,1-2)