Have you ever thought of what it must have been like to be a leper and a hated Samaritan to boot in the time of Jesus?
Imagine having a skin disease so terrible and so contagious that it forced you to live apart from your family and loved ones. You had to live in a place where everyone was afflicted like you. Imagine being rejected and despised both physically and spiritually.
Leprosy is loneliness. Leprosy is isolation. It is anger. It is helplessness. Leprosy is a sickness of the body that becomes a sickness of the spirit.
The Jews believed that leprosy was something God sent as a punishment for something they or someone in their family had done.
Then one day ten hopeless lepers met Jesus who was heading for Jerusalem to conquer the death of the body and give eternal life to the spirit (Luke 17:11-19).
Today, we need to ask, “What is the leprosy in our own lives and in our communities that Jesus needs to heal?” All we need to do is to check out today’s popular TV shows and magazines. So much of what we see and read about is dysfunctional.
I once knew a young woman who wanted a career and material success. Then one day she realized that all she wanted was a lifetime commitment to a man who loved her. I have listened to young couples who want to get married, but don’t want to have kids until they get to do all the things they want to do. I have read the surveys taken of teenagers in upper-class private schools who claim that their parents don’t really love them.
Can we find islands of peace and tranquility as we race from one activity to another? How do our lives compare with the lives of our grandparents and great-grandparents? They did hard manual labor, but they had family meals around a large table. The family overcame economic difficulties together.
Can we imagine their world where they saved their pennies for an occasional treat? Their vacation was a trip across town for a family wedding like Little House on the Prairie. Don’t such memories trigger far different feelings in us than what we watched on TV this week?
There is such loneliness in our busy world today. When we become isolated from our family members or our neighbors, is that not a leprosy? Do you have an anger that keeps coming back again and again in your life? Is your anger a leprosy?
Have you found people in your life who seem to be helplessly enmeshed in problems and difficulties? They seem to be calling out for help the way a leper would do.
Has the spiritual sickness that is present in the world around us infected our own families? Do we sit in our pain and isolation and fail to hope in the Lord? Or do we cry out to the Lord as we struggle with our own leprosy. “Jesus, Master, have pity on me!”
Do we have faith in the Lord when we call out to him? Do we go off as the lepers did to show ourselves to the priest, but still believe that our leprosy is still with us?
Notice that Jesus asks the lepers to prove their faith in action. And when Jesus sends his healing grace upon us, do we forget about ourselves and run back to him? A God Touch
Do we thank Jesus as the Samaritan did? In Greek, “eucharisteo” is the word for “giving thanks”. Do we bring our thankfulness to the Lord as we come to receive him in the Eucharist?
Luke gives us the cure for our loneliness, our isolation, our leprosy. We have got to “Eucharist Jesus”. We’ve got to give thanks to Jesus from the depths of our hearts and souls. Jesus can and will replace our hours of staring at our smart phones, TV and computer screens with the laughter and the sounds of family conversation.
It is not happiness that makes us thankful, but thankfulness that makes us happy!!