Today’s Gospel occupies an interesting place in Luke’s Gospel. It’s preceded by this self-effacing admission of good servants: We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we are obliged to do. And it is followed the realization: Behold the Kingdom of God is among you.
I believe that this healing of ten lepers both illustrates and contrasts to such teaching. The fact these lepers have beckoned Jesus illustrates their confidence in his ministry, his service. He, like a good servant, responds to their need without any fuss. Nine of them do exactly what he obliged them to do—they went to show themselves to the priest.
But that also meant leaving Jesus behind without a word.
The one who recognized that he was healed, not just cured of leprosy, could only return to thank Jesus. Healing means he was restored to human company from his quarantine; he was no longer isolated.
Since he, a Samaritan, was paying homage to a Jew, weren’t they discovering the reconciling Kingdom of God among them? Weren’t they, in that extraordinary encounter, engendering the Kingdom of God?
The others were cured, yes, and obeying Jesus, indeed. But would they be looking for the Kingdom of God as some “thing,” out there, like a magic trick that would invade their space and change everything? Were they expecting “it” to take care of everything for them, like that miracle drug no one can locate at CVS or that charismatic candidate who never seems to run for office?
“Look, here [is the Kingdom,” or “There it is.” No one will announce that, Jesus says. But, Jesus, Master! Have pity on us—that is the place to begin: in what ails me, in the space where my vulnerability coincides with the wounds of Jesus. There among us, where I offer no resistance to mercy and grace, isn’t that where the Kingdom of God can break in?