On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, and as he entered a village, ten lepers came to meet him. Keeping their distance, they called to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus said to them, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Then, as they went on their way, they found they were cured. One of them, as soon as he saw that he was cleansed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice; and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave him thanks. This man was a Samaritan.
Then Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Did none of them decide to return and give praise to God, but this foreigner?” And Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you.”
The ‘conversion’ of St Francis of Assisi took place through his contact with lepers. We read in his Testament: “The Lord granted me, Brother Francis, to begin to do penance in this way: while I was in sin, it seemed very bitter to me to see lepers. And the Lord himself led me among them and I had mercy upon them. And when I left them that which seemed bitter to me, was changed into sweetness of soul and body; and afterward I lingered a little and left the world.”
Today we have the healing of ten lepers. You remember that Jews and Samaritans were not friends. Nevertheless, the illness of leprosy gathered nine Jews and one Samaritan in the same group. Common disgrace leads to communion beyond boundaries.
At a distance to observe the Law (Lev 13:46), they called: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus, observing also the Law, sent them to the priest (Lev 14:2-3).
The division of the group reappeared. The Samaritan only came back to glorify the Lord, and received his praise. The foreigners take the first place.
We are not Jesus. We cannot heal lepers. But we can imitate Francis. We can approach the poor and the beggars. We can show pity. Let us ask the Lord for a compassionate and grateful heart.
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