Ten lepers were healed by Jesus but only one came back. Nine hundred years ago, Meister Eckhart wrote some very simple, but important words about this story from Luke’s Gospel. He wrote: “The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: ‘Thank you.'”
Ten lepers were healed but only one came back to say this prayer to Jesus: “thank you.”
To be a leper in those days was to be an absolute outcast. You were cast out of your family, you were cast out of your religious community, you were cast out of your town. Leper! Outcast! Unclean! As they begged for mercy, Jesus looked at them and told them to go “show yourselves to the priests.” As the ten go, they are healed. You can imagine what comes next: they rush to the priests, the priests verify that they are healed, there are tearful reunions with families, friends, and then the former lepers resume their normal life. They came into contact with Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life and Death, the Messenger of the Reign of God, who worked a miracle in their presence, and they ended up with…a normal life. That’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t that what most of us settle for? A normal life?
But one of them doesn’t go to the priests. One of them doesn’t rush back home. One of them knows that to come into contact with Jesus Christ offers you something more than a normal life. He comes back to Jesus, loudly praising God, and falling at Jesus’ feet to offer his simple prayer: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” And this one, out of all the ten, is a Samaritan. A leper and a Samaritan – a two-time loser. And Jesus says to him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.” Your faith has saved you.
Ten lepers were healed. Only one leper was saved. All ten got their outsides washed clean. Only one got changed inside. Nine got back their normal lives. Only one was delivered into newness of life.
This Thanksgiving let us offer thanks to God but then not settle for “normal” lives. Let us take part in the real miracle of our faith: a relationship with Jesus Christ that can change our lives and heal our world.
Your friend and fellow minister, Rev. Steve Savides