Gospel Lk 17:11-19
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he passed along the borders of Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have mercy on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”
There is a lot more going on here than one tends to realize if and when we read it at simple uncritical face value.
Twentieth century poet…W.H. Auden wrote this:
When grace enters, there is no choice—humans must dance!
While standing on the step of the cabin on Wednesday night, a warm gentle breeze, cloudless night…pitch blackness….the sky absolutely ablaze with stars and a crescent moon….I took a few brief moments….looking at those stars…I thought to myself….if it weren’t for the darkness, one could never see the light!
You see my friends….this Gospel isn’t a story of one grateful person who experienced profound healing in his life….it is a story of 10 profound healings, 9 of whom behaved just as precisely as the social and religious laws of their day prescribed…
and one other….
one social and religious outcast…
who did the only thing he knew and that was to glorify God…
and thank the one who was the vehicle of God’s grace…
Just as W. H. Auden said…. When grace enters, there is no choice—humans must dance!
You see my friends in the Ancient Mediterranean world….to thank a person, meant to acknowledge a gift and at the same time sever the relationship with the giver,
not because of ingratitude,
but because there would be no way to ever pay back such a gift….so he did the only thing he could…
and removed himself from the potential ever happening again.
Diedrich Bonhoffer….If the only prayer one ever uttered was “Thank you” it would be enough….
You see my friends I think we are probably alot more like the friends and family of the 9 lepers….
we acknowledge God’s grace…
we give a full hearted and full meaning filled acknowledgement to the gift,
but then we remove ourselves from the agent…
the channel….and stop the flow of Gods grace into and in our lives…
because when it happens…
we have no choice but to dance
but it is a short dance because we are simply too busy being good, upright, law abiding, productive, industrious, worthwhile people to waste time being grateful for the grace!
It is very hard if not impossible to be here when we are somewhere else….
and nothing makes it more challenging than these little electronic gadgets that were always meant to create more time and space for holy leisure but have for the most part become our nemesis rather than our assistants.
Lucky for us that saying thank you today…does not carry that type of meaning….to day it means what it says…Thank You—it is meant to carry the deep weight of our gratitude.!
Yet it is very hard to be grateful when we are focused on being productive.
Gratitude takes time…
maybe our biggest challenge…
we can’t make more…
we may need to simply allocate differently…
maybe the dishes don’t need to be done at this moment, maybe the laundry can wait just a few minutes…
if you have ever noticed… a sunset slips away quickly and a shooting star is often milliseconds in length.
When grace enters, there is no choice but to dance!
My hope and my prayer: that we learn to dance well and dance often!