Proper 23 – Year C

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7; Psalm 66:1-11; (or 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c; Psalm 111); 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19

“In case you failed to notice, in case you failed to see, this is my heart, bleeding before you, this is me down on my knees.” – Jewel Kilcher

                The obvious main theme of this Gospel passage is gratitude.  Ten lepers are cured but only one comes back to give thanks to Jesus (Luke 17:17) (see Greek below).  That’s the central theme.  However, there is a supportive theme.  Before Jesus sends them off to be healed on the way, he “sees” them.  This is not a mere optic occurrence.  He sees them in the deeper sense of understanding their pain.  (see Greek below)  In the words of the singer Jewel, he sees their bleeding heart.  He sees them down on their knees.  He sees their hurt.  No sight failure on Jesus’ part.  Certainly we can read this Gospel and know that we need to express gratitude to God.  Can we read this passage and also learn to “see” what hurts lie deep in people causing them to be the way they are.  People in those days, with any kind of skin disease, were called lepers, and rightly or wrongly considered contagious.  They were shunned, not allowed to participate in society.  That is why the ten lepers, when they beg Jesus for mercy, stand afar off, keeping their distance (Luke 17:12).  Jesus “saw” their deep isolation from neighbors, friends, and family, aching deep in their hearts.  And he healed them, not just from external leprosy, but also more importantly from their inner pain.  The challenge for us is to really see each other.  When we come upon people we would like to keep at a distance, can we draw them in closer and make them well?  Then all of us will have something to be grateful for.

Greek

                There are two words for “see” in the New Testament (blepo and harao).  For the most part the words are interchangeable.  However, the Greek word used in this passage (harao) is commonly used to mean “understand.” 

                In Luke 17:17 Jesus asks “Where are the nine?”  The Greek word order says a lot.  “The nine, where?”  With the word “where” at the end of the sentence, we are drawn a picture.  We can almost see Jesus looking around, wondering, as he says “where.”

Haiku

At distance hurting.

See my deep wound. Kindness please.

Come by. Be made well.

 

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