Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jesus, Master! Have Pity On Us

Reading 1

Wisdom 6:1-11

Hear, O kings, and understand;
learn, you magistrates of the earth’s expanse!

Hearken, you who are in power over the multitude
and lord it over throngs of peoples!

Because authority was given you by the Lord
and sovereignty by the Most High,
who shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels.

Because, though you were ministers of his kingdom, you judged not rightly,
you did not keep the law,
or walk according to the will of God,

Terribly and swiftly shall he come against you,
because judgment is stern for the exalted–
For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy
but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test.

For the Lord of all shows no partiality,
nor does he fear greatness,

Because he himself made the great as well as the small,
and he provides for all alike;
but for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends.

To you, therefore, O princes, are my words addressed
that you may learn wisdom and that you may not sin.

For those who keep the holy precepts hallowed shall be found holy,
and those learned in them will have ready a response.

Desire therefore my words;
long for them and you shall be instructed.


Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 82

R. Rise up, O God, bring judgment to the earth.

Defend the lowly and the fatherless;
render justice to the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the lowly and the poor;
from the hand of the wicked deliver them.

R. Rise up, O God, bring judgment to the earth.

I said: “You are gods,
all of you sons of the Most High;
yet like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”

R. Rise up, O God, bring judgment to the earth.



Luke 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.

As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”

And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”

As they were going they were cleansed,
one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.

Jesus said in reply:

“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”

+++ +++ +++ +++

Lepers were outcasts, required by the Law of Moses to keep their distance from other people (Leviticus 13:45-59). But in this gospel of the Ten Lepers, shared misery had brought Jewish and Samaritan lepers together. If they hadn’t been lepers, they would never have been found in each other’s company! There was deep religious animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans were foreigners (they did not share the same blood lines). And they were heretics, who followed a different religion than the Jews. Their region was a melting pot of various cults and customs, and the Jews abhorred it as a blot upon the land to which the LORD had guided their ancestors, led by Moses.

It was a very awkwardly situated blot, right in the middle of the land of Israel, north of Judea, south of Galilee. So, if a couple from Nazareth wanted to bring their twelve-year-old son to Jerusalem for his bar mitzvah, they had to pass through Samaritan territory or to skirt it. If they passed through, things could get very unpleasant; if they went around, down the other side of the Jordan, the journey would be twice as long.

Don’t all of us have some Samaritan territory in the middle of our life? It’s the part of your life that is a mess: where you are at your weakest and your worst, where your thoughts and motives are unclear and confused, where you are never at peace, and hardly dare to hope that things will get better anytime soon.
But there is another side of the story: the woman at the well, the leper who came back to thank Jesus, the traveler from Jericho to Jerusalem who stopped to take care of the robbery victim, they were Samaritans! There is hope for all of us. Perhaps we are already among those ten lepers, waiting for the Lord to stretch out his hand and heal us.

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