The ten lepers

The leper affected by leprosy will wear torn clothes and uncovered head, cover his beard and go shouting: "Unclean! Unclean!".

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Gospel - Luke [17,11-19]

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee. Entering a village, ten lepers met him and, standing at a distance, raised their voices, saying: "Jesus Master, have mercy on us!" As soon as he saw them, Jesus said, "Go and show yourselves to the priests". And as they went, they were healed. One of them, seeing himself healed, went back praising God in a loud voice; and he threw himself at Jesus' feet to thank him. He was a Samaritan. But Jesus observed: "Have not all ten been healed? And where are the other nine? Was there no one found to return to give glory to God, except this stranger?" And he said to him, "Get up and go; your faith has saved you!".

Exegesis - Luke [17.11-19]

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, passing through Samaria to go to Galilee, when in a village, ten lepers approach him, stop at a distance and shout: "Jesus, master, have mercy on us!"

The Law of Moses prescribed that whoever had leprosy, for fear of contagion, that man had to live outside the villages and cities: "The leper affected by leprosy will wear torn clothes and his head bare, cover his beard and go shouting: "Unclean! Unclean!". He will be unclean as long as he has the plague; he is unclean, he will be alone, he will live outside the camp".
(Lv 13,45-46).

They were required to report their presence to others, because anyone who met them would avoid them. That of the leper was a doubly painful life, both from the physical point of view, with suffering, mutilation, poverty, hardship, and from the moral and spiritual one, because they were considered impure, unable to enter the temple and deprived even of comfort. human, of the compassion of their families, estranged from everything and everyone. For all this, leprosy was the worst of diseases and in substance it was equivalent, for a Jew, to death.

However these lepers, having seen Jesus, do not invite him to leave, warning him saying "We are unclean", but on the contrary they approach, perhaps because they have understood, that only Jesus is their only hope and here is their cry: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us".

For lepers, the search for healing meant finding purity in order to be reintegrated into the community. Now in this cry, they express a deep faith in Jesus that could heal them and restore purity to them. Obtaining purity meant feeling welcomed by God again and being able to go to Him to receive the blessing promised to Abraham.

Jesus could heal them immediately however he wants to prove their faith and says: "Go and present yourselves to the priests". The priest had to verify the healing and certify the purity of the healed one (Lv 14,1-32). And they go, they set out, trusting only in the word of the Lord because they believe, even if their body was still covered with leprosy. Their faith is rewarded because along the way they discover that the leprosy is gone, they are healed. Here is the miracle of faith, only faith can activate the power of God allowing him to work with wonders.

Unexpectedly, the episode does not end here, of the ten lepers who have been healed, only one comes back praising God in a loud voice, prostrating himself before Jesus, at his feet, to thank him, he was a Samaritan. That healed leper recognizes in Jesus the Messenger of God, God himself, and thanks him. So that man is saved.

The Jewish people despised the Samaritans and didn't have much to do with them, however the Samaritans had always observed the Mosaic precepts as expressed in the Pentateuch, in case it was the Jews who deviated from the right religion, adding deviant innovations to the correct Mosaic faith.

But Jesus observes: "Were not all ten healed? And where are the other nine? Was there no one found to return to give glory to God, except this stranger?" Jesus expresses his astonishment, but how, faced with such a great prodigy, did those nine not recognize Him?

It is truly paradoxical there is no news that at that time others could perform wonders like this. Yet when they set out to go to the priests, they have no doubts about their healing, and in this they prove their faith.

But even if they have seen only a prophet in Jesus why they do not consider it necessary to return to thank him. Are they so ungrateful? Were they only interested in healing the body?

When they went to the priests they will surely have told about their healing, and who was the one who was the author of the prodigy. It could somehow be deduced that the priests who are not in favor of Jesus have somehow tried to discredit him. It is known that the Samaritan was freer in thought and evaluated what had happened without any interference. It should be remembered here that it will be the priests who will have Jesus condemned to the torture of the cross. However, the evangelist does not report any comment, but offers us as a model that Samaritan who saw the power of God in the sign, believed and saved himself, unlike the other nine.

This story testifies to us that sometimes the prodigy is not enough to be able to believe, and it can happen to us too, that Jesus worked with signs in our life. Our response contains our tomorrow of salvation or condemnation.