Today’s gospel story invites us to reflect on the potential goodness of everyone. It continues last week’s focus on the saving power of faith. Just four Greek words make up the most telling sentence in the story: “And he was Samaritan!” A new element has entered into the narrative: faith is not the sole preserve of the Jewish people. A despised half-Jew can have faith, faith buried deep within and actively at work like the life in the mustard seed.
Jesus is approached by ten lepers. All have been excluded from participation in village life on account of their skin disease. All beg for inclusion, expressed in terms of mercy. All follow the prescription of the Law of Moses to show themselves to the priests. All are declared “clean”. Only one turns back, praises God in the market place, falls at Jesus’ feet and thanks him. This one alone receives the now familiar affirmation: “your faith has saved you”. Jesus tells the Samaritan to rise up and continue on his way, on his journey of faith. The other nine are healed, presumably because they too have some limited faith. They have nonetheless forgotten the source of their healing and abandoned the journey to life.
One measure of our faith is our capacity to acknowledge and to celebrate the source of our well-being when life is good and we have no felt need for healing. Another is our capacity to say a simple word of thanks to all those who mediate to us the goodness of a compassionate and merciful God, whatever our circumstances. As this Jubilee Year of Mercy nears its end, we might pause to give thanks for everyone and everything that mediates God’s mercy to us and to our troubled planet.

By: Sister Veronica Lawson, RSM,