Responding to Mercy: gratitude

tenlepers15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

The Samaritan fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  Some might argue that it reads too much into the posture to say that it is an act of worship (although I think that is a fair reading of Luke) – but in any event, is it an act of humility.  St. Bonaventure, sometimes referred to as the second founder of the Franciscan friars, wrote in his work The Tree of Life that humility is the guardian and gateway of all the other virtues and that gratitude is its first evidence. Continue reading

Advertisements

Responding to Mercy: faith

tenlepers11 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

Stand up and go; your faith has saved [sozo] you” (v.19). Such are the words spoken to the Samaritan leper, the only one who returned and gave thanks to Jesus.  sozo has as a basic meaning, “to rescue from danger and to restore to a former state of safety and well being.” Thus it is translated with words like “save,” “heal,” “make whole,” depending upon how the danger is understood.  How are we to understand the use of sozo here in this verse? Continue reading

Responding to Mercy: boundaries

tenlepersThe telling of this encounter seems straight forward: (a) Jesus encounters a group of lepers on the road to Jerusalem, (b) they ask for his mercy, (c) they are cured, but (d) only one returns to thank Jesus and that one is a Samaritan. A simple miracle story, yes? A narrative about faith as the foundation of healing? Such simple summaries, even if true, miss several key aspects of the encounter and the chance to reflect further on our own life of faith in Jesus. Faith and the response to Mercy inevitably leads one to cross boundaries. Continue reading

Responding to Mercy: context

tenlepers11 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

The narrative of the Journey to Jerusalem (begun in Luke 9:51) returns; new characters are introduced – ten lepers – the disciples play no role in this story. For a brief moment the on-going theme of forming discipleship seemingly takes a backseat, as the accent is upon God’s mercy and salvation. Several commentators hold that this account marks a new turn in Luke’s telling of the gospel moving from an accent on discipleship to the larger theme of “Responding to the Kingdom” as the cleansing of lepers is takes as a sign of the in-breaking of the Kingdom. Continue reading

Being merciful

Jesus-healingJesus, son of David, have pity on me.” (Mark 10:47). Is “pity” what we desire in our lives? Do you want to be pitied? When I ask people about the word “pity,” how we understand and use it, despite what the Merriam-Webster dictionary says, “pity” does not have a positive connotation in everyday usage. Pity is that thing that we shower upon the unfortunate, a distant regret for their plight, a thankful prayer that it is not us. Continue reading

Rules

We are promised that whenever two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, there He will be among us.  I have always suspected when the number is more than a billion world-wide, you better have rules. Rules are necessary – even helpful, but we always need to remember the basis of the rule or things get confusing when people interpret rules in differing ways. I suspect a lot of church arguments fall in this category. Believe it or not, the most common “church rule” question I receive is “how many times a day can I receive Eucharist.”  There is a set number and conditions – I will leave you the details to research on-line.  But when you find the rule (if you do) will you find the basis for the rule? Continue reading

Through Mercy’s Pane

Hand soft upon the window
Reaching out to touch the time just past

New York City school yards
In the cold spring
Winds eddy between the buildings
Pushing the laughter and unrestrained excess of recess
Young girls speak their hidden language with furtive fleeting looks
Eyes reveal their hidden whispers
The boys, oblivious and parading
Do what only boys could understand, care to understand

Teachers seize an uninterrupted moment
A passing bit of quiet in the smoky haze
As the day drags on
A respite before they all return

She traces simple lines and arcs in the cold spring frost
On Mercy’s pane
Watching the time just pass

“Yahweh God shaped man from the soil of the earth
And blew the breath of life into his nostrils
And man became a living being”

That breath passes from generation to generation
A chain of life connecting grandmothers, mothers, and daughters
The breath of God flowing
So wondrous

Tears soft upon her cheek
For reasons she does not yet know

Only a child
Someone’s daughter
Soon now a mother
A new link in that chain
Watching her yesterday on the playground
Not yet able to imagine what is lost or what lays ahead
Or the gentle mercy she will need

June 26, 2001