On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee.
As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
When Jesus saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.
Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Then Jesus said to the Samaritan, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
The lepers were in no man’s land. Not in Samaria. Not in Galilee. Outcast.
I have experienced being lost in no man’s land. I think of the times I have perceived myself as an outsider… not quite in Samaria, but not yet in Galilee. It was my sin that held me in limbo. I can remember one time sitting in my very own church and feeling completely alone. I felt like an outsider, a Samaritan even, gazing in at all the good people around me. I was the outlier. As the priest spoke that day about the gravity of the sin I was once participating in, I felt as though I was shrinking in the pew; as though all eyes were on me. I was surely the only one in the church guilty of this sin.
This is the crux of sin—a shame-led turning in on ourselves. But it is not how God sees us. Jesus saw the lepers when many others would have looked away. And the lepers didn’t cower away when they were staring into the face of their saviour. As soon as He was in their sight, they reached out. And God, in His mercy, released them from their pain, and sent them on to bear witness. Jesus brought them back to the inner circle by cleaning them up, inside and out.
"Jesus brought them back to the inner circle by cleaning them up, inside and out."
Cleanness is a matter of perception though, isn’t it? It is relative to our societal, cultural, or spiritual standards of conduct. Saint Teresa of Avila uses the analogy of a glass of water. As it is, the glass of water seems quite clear, but when the sun shines through it, all of its imperfections are revealed (The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila).
My personal standard of cleanness as a twenty something, a thirty something, and now as a Christian, has trended upward, for sure, but it wasn’t a linear progression. My growth in desire to be made clean is directly proportionate to my dedication to prayer and thanksgiving. Areas requiring a scrubbing can be revealed to us through prayer and should be responded to through thanksgiving. If a layer of filth is revealed to us through prayer, we have received the great grace of awareness of our fault. Without being aware, we are unable to confess it, ask forgiveness for it, and be made clean from it.
I can still at times find myself wading in the sinfully dangerous boundary region of lukewarm faith. Believing enough to ask for help, but not joyfully recognizing when the prayers have been answered, or neglecting to throw myself at the feet of Jesus in thanksgiving for all He has done. My wellness depends on this practice.
As we become further detached from ourselves and more attached to Jesus, our wellness increases. Our wellness is contingent on how dedicated we are to glorifying God with our lives—to our instinctive pouring out of thanks. Let us pray, on this Thanksgiving and always, for a disposition of thanks for the countless graces He continually pours out upon and within us.