Thanking our Healers (Luke 17:11-19)

As some of you may know, we have started a two-month series call Paul Fall (#PaulFall), examining the writings and context of the apostle Paul. This means (*gasp*) that we are going off the Lectionary until the start of Advent. But the Lectionary continues to roll on, and so each week I will offer a short reflection on a lectionary passage. The whole lectionary for this week can be found here.

Luke 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

This is one of those little stories that can be a lot of different things. There is a lengthy tradition of reading the foreigner who returned to thank Jesus as a symbol for Christianity itself. We are the ones who returned, while everyone else took God’s gift and ran away. It seems that there is no Biblical story where we can’t read ourselves as the good guys.

I think there is something much simpler going on here. Jesus healed ten lepers, and only one returned. When I think about all the healing and support that people have offered me, gifts large and small, and I think about how often I have returned to offer thanks, I am just as often among the nine as with the one. I frequently forget or fail to thank people who have cared for me. And I’m guessing its not just me.

Caring and healing take whole teams of people, communities working together to lift up someone who is in need. It is impossible to acknowledge everyone who makes our lives healthier and happier. If we fell prostrate at the feet of every healer in our lives, we would do nothing but run from friend to friend, thanking them for how they have cared for us.

Who has played the role of healer in your life? Who are just some of the many people who have embodied Jesus’ healing love and mercy for you? Have you thanked them? What sort of recognition and thanksgiving could you offer to the healers in your life? Or the healers in our church? How can we better remember the healers and caretakers at GMC?