Dear brothers and sisters,
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
Our Lord has been revealing to us through parables heard in the past few Sundays the infinite magnitude and power of His merciful love for us His sinful children. In today’s gospel, He begins to put into action all those parables.
He passes through Samaria and Galilee; in other words, He passes through between the two regions, a no-man’s land. He is outside the village and meets ten lepers who are not allowed to be in any village but required by Mosaic law to be expelled from their villages until they are cured of their skin disease.
This expulsion is based on the fear of the disease contaminating other people and infecting them and also contaminating the holiness of God who dwells amidst the people in the village.
This is why Elisha, in today’s first reading, will not come out of his tent to face Namaan the Syrian army commander who seeks healing from leprosy. This is why the priest and levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan walked the opposite side of the half-dead person lying on the road.
The space where disease and sin and death takes place, priests, prophets, kings and all of God’s people are not allowed to enter because they are most certainly going to be contaminated, infected and overcome by it. This is why in Jesus’ parable of the rich man, Abraham, Lazarus and the rich man cannot cross the chasm that separates them. They are powerless in that space.
Jesus is in that chasm, that sin-and-disease-contaminated space. It is the dreaded space which the ten lepers and Namaan cannot cross. It is the space that the prophet Elisha cannot cross. It is the space that Samaritans and Galileans do not cross.
By His words, Jesus facilitates a crossing. He sends the ten lepers to the priests to verify their being cured of their skin disease, so that they may re-enter the community and God’s presence.
Only one of the ten lepers completed the crossing. He was a foreigner. He crossed over to God by returning to Jesus giving thanks. The other nine returned to the old covenant priests and the community who still lived in fear of disease, sin and death.
Namaan and the Samaritans are two foreigners who showed faith in a God who is more powerful than sin and death. Namaan found the true God. The Samaritan recognized Jesus as the true God who has power over impurity, unholiness, sin, and death.
This is the faith that saved Namaan and the Samaritan. This is the mustard-seed-faith that saves us.- Fr. Simi.