Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today speaks again of the Samaritans, foreigners in the land of Israel among the Jews, the chosen people of God. Last Sunday we heard the parable of the good Samaritan in which the Samaritan showed mercy to a Jew left almost dead by thieves. The Jews despised the Samaritans. And when we hear about the difficulties of Venezuelans abroad, we can understand the root of this attitude. Xenophobia is the fear of the foreigner that Venezuelans have experienced in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, the countries where the authorities opened the ports to refugees, but many people have another idea.
Our text for today is not a parable, it is a real event. “And it came to pass that He went to Jerusalem, passed through Samaria and Galilee. And entering a village, ten lepers came to meet Him, who stood in the distance, and raised their voices, saying: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. ”
The lepers were another marginalized group. Leprosy is a very disgusting skin disease, characterized by deterioration of the skin of the legs, arms and face. For fear of contagion the lepers could not live in their homes with their families, only with other lepers. And above all, they could not enter the Temple of Jerusalem to worship God. However, although leprosy is a chronic disease, it does not necessarily last a lifetime. According to the Law of Moses, if leprosy passed, a man should go to the priests who had the responsibility for who could enter the Temple. After an examination by the priest, if the leper did not have the disease, he could return to his home and family, and enter the Temple again.
These lepers shouted to Jesus, Master have mercy on us. Maybe as beggars, they wanted money. Perhaps the healing of their illness. The text says: “And when He saw them, He said to them: Go, show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass that they were cleansed. Then one of them, seeing that he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell on his face at His feet, thanking Him; and this one was Samaritan. ”
All received their health. Only one received something else. “And He said to him: Get up and go; your faith has saved you. "
No one deserves anything good from the hands of God, because we are all sinners. However, God in His mercy gives blessings to all: The sun and the rain in their times, houses, families, all good things. This is common grace, divine providence. Many people take God's blessings for granted and never thank Him.
Ten lepers received the restoration of their health by the mercy of Jesus. Only the Samaritan recognized who Jesus was and worshiped Him. So, he gained something more precious from health, the forgiveness of his sins.
Every Sunday we pray for all the sick. For many people, bodily health is more valuable than money or food or a house. For who could enjoy these things without health? But, even more important is the health of the soul.
The others did not recognize that God was present before their eyes. Only the Samaritan. He was not a descendant of Abraham, but he received absolution, the complete forgiveness of his sins and the promise of eternal life, directly from the mouth of Jesus Christ.
Now, for us, we gather every Sunday in this house of God. Why do we meet? To greet family and our friends? To sing beautiful songs? These are good things, but the most valuable of all is the gift of God in confession and absolution, when we receive the same forgiveness of sins. In addition, those confirmed in faith receive the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament. These are the most important blessings for us. In the church, the afflicted can receive food, medicine or other particular needs. The need for all is the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. And we have this in concrete form also, in the water of baptism and the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.
That is why we gather here, because Christ is present here. We gather to thank and publicly worship our Savior, and as with the Samaritan, our past does not matter. We must go to church in good times and hard times. In good times, temptation is to think we don't need God. In difficult times, to say, where is God now? But, there is always the need to repent our sins and receive their promises again.
In this, we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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