Readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19
No one asks to be the victim of prejudice.
Each of us has some touchy area in our identity that is easily wounded by someone’s prejudice. Tragically, this is inevitable in a pluralistic society.
Pluralism was forced on ancient Palestine. The Jews were ruled by four autocrats dependent on the Romans, who dismissed Jews as an under-civilized, fanatical, contentious people, so lazy as to observe a weekly holiday–the Sabbath. The success-driven and pragmatic Romans could fathom none of that.
If Jews felt the sting of prejudice, they themselves compensated by putting down the Samaritans. By the time we encounter the ten lepers of today’s Gospel, we’ve heard something about Samaritans from Saint Luke.
Some eight chapters earlier, Jesus is prevented from passing through a Samaritan town because he and the apostles are on the way to Jerusalem. For a change, the Samaritans get to put down someone!
This experience does not prevent Jesus in the very next chapter from casting a Samaritan as the exemplar in his parable about a Jew mugged on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. And now life imitates art in a Samaritan leper whose gratitude overcomes the resentment of prejudice.
How desperate had this leper been for human company that he’s found with Jewish lepers? How had they been treating him? Had he gone to the Temple to show himself to the priest, what sort of reception would he have received in Jerusalem?
How costly was that cure and gratitude? Did it threaten his own prejudices, his excuses, his settled routine? Healing is as demanding as infirmity.
This Samaritan renders Jesus the Jew more than thanks. Gratitude allows him to perceive who Jesus really is.
When I wallow in either entitlement or self-pity what do I fail to see? How does my ingratitude blind me?