Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Last Sunday we read the parable of the Good Samaritan. Remember that the Samaritans were another people who lived in the land of Palestine. As they were a mixture of the blood of the Jews and other races, there was not a good relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. However, when the good Samaritan found a Jew in distress, the differences did not matter to him.
In our text for today, we do not read a parable, but of a real encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan, along with nine Jews. They were united in affliction; they were all lepers. Leprosy is a skin disease, very ugly. Because of the threat to the health of the whole people, the law of Moses commanded them to live apart from other people. In addition, the lepers could not enter the Temple of Jerusalem to worship God. Not only for the threat to health, but also to show that nothing impure can be in the presence of God.
However, sometimes the leprosy subsided and the man regained his health. According to the law, he should appear before the priests of the Temple. They were able to check his body and pronounce him healthy. With a certificate from the priests, he could enter the Temple, also return to his home and family.
Well, we read as follows: "Ten leprous men came to meet him, who stood in the distance, and raised their voices, saying: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said to them: Go, show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass that when they went, they were cleansed. Then one of them, seeing that he had been healed, returned, glorifying God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at his feet, giving thanks; and this one was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Are not ten that were cleansed? And the nine where are they? Was there no one who returned and gave glory to God but this foreigner? And he said to him: Get up, go; your faith has saved you. "
The mercy of God is undeserved and unconditional. Jesus did not withdraw the gift of health from those who did not return to thank Him. But, the Samaritan returned and received a more precious gift: The words of absolution. "Your faith has saved you." The others resumed their lives in this world without the sure promise of eternal life. We receive the same gift at baptism, and every Sunday when we confess our sins, God through the pastor reaffirms His forgiveness. And after we offer our praises, petitions and thanksgiving, God offers us the gift of His body and blood in the Holy Supper.
Everyone can hear the Word of God, but only confirmed, examined and absolved members can receive the sacrament. The law of Moses taught people in physical terms, that nothing impure can enter the holy place of God. Now this altar is our holy place. Here we enter into the presence and communion with God. And no one can walk in spiritual impurity and enter this holy place. Our reading of the Old Testament (Proverbs 4: 10-23) and the epistle (Galatians 5: 16-24) speak of two ways. There are only two paths in this life and no one can walk in both.
The sacraments are not magical rites. We only make their promises by living faith, and living faith bears fruit. Also the carnal desires bear fruit. What are these?
St. Paul says: "And the works of the flesh are manifest: Adultery, fornication, filthiness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, fights, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, debauchery, and things like these; of which I denounce you, as I have already denounced you, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. "
Few people want enmity, strife, jealousies, anger, fights, dissensions and this kind of thing in their lives, but they are the consequences of not walking in faith. Other things seem more pleasant, but also the bad fruits spring forth. Adultery is to have sex with a man or a woman who is not your spouse. Fornication is to live as husband and wife without the commitment of marriage, and that is also against the will of God. Idolatry is not simply crude idolatry like the invocation of Maria Lionza, Negro Felipe or the Virgin and the saints. It is also to put higher priority on anything but the triune God, such as money, political power or the admiration of men. The word translated as "sorceries" is φαρμακεία, which has the same root of our word, pharmacy. Because basic to the practice of sorcery was the use of potions for bad purposes.
Of course, doctors used herbal mix to heal people. But, the Greeks invented the Hippocratic oath, which says the doctor should not administer poisons, for example, to cause abortions. So, people looked for sorcerers to do that. Also, sorcerers used drugs to open their minds to the influence of spirits, but not celestial spirits, but unclean spirits.
As Christians, we must avoid all these things. We are sinners and we pray to God to avoid temptation. Not only because of the consequences, but because we want a new life. The Greek word translated as repentance means change of mind. So, through true repentance, we do not want to live by the desires of the flesh.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; Against such things there is no law. But those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with their passions and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
When we fall into sin, we can confess our sin and receive absolution. But, the repentant sinner does not want to continue in his sin. Our sin is like leprosy; the leper wants the healing of his body, not continue in his illness. Therefore, when someone is walking openly in sin, he should not receive the sacrament. The discipline of the church is not for punishment or condemnation, but to restore the son of God in a good relationship with the Father. By the blood of Christ we have spiritual healing. In this is the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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