St Michael’s and St Barnabas 22nd April 2018
Readings – Luke 17:11-19; 1 Peter 2:4-12
Being a leper in first century Israel was a miserable existence. Whether or not you actually had leprosy was beside the point. Everyone could see you had a horrible disease and they did whatever they could to stay away from you. You had no friends, no family, nowhere you could call home. The only support you had was from your fellow lepers. You would stick together for survival, living on the very edge of society, shunned and barely existing, wondering where your next meal would come from.
And there was no point turning to the religious leaders for help. They told everyone you were under the judgement of God. You were in their eyes unclean, a threat to their ritual purity. If they saw you coming, they would definitely pass by on the other side of the road. You were a hazard to be avoided at all costs.
But for one band of lepers at least there was a glimmer of hope. They had heard about Jesus. Reports had reached them He had a particular heart for the outcast, the poor, the broken. And so they thought maybe, just maybe, He could help. Of course there was a risk Jesus might reject them. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had turned their backs on them. Yet they really had nothing to lose.
So when they heard Jesus was in the neighbourhood, the ten of them got together and approached – not too close, but just near enough that He could their appeal: Jesus, Master, have pity on us. Now we have no way of knowing what they expected Jesus to do. Perhaps they were hoping for an instant miracle – if so, they were sorely disappointed. Jesus’ response was not exactly rejection, but it certainly wasn’t anything dramatic: Go, show yourselves to the priests.
No doubt the lepers had been to the priests many times already. It was the job of the priest to examine a person’s skin and decide if he or she was unclean. And it was the priests who had already banished them from society. So you might well wonder why these ten lepers decided to do what Jesus said. But they heard His words, they obeyed, and they went. Read the rest of this entry »