>Once again, we are shown how the Lord chooses the most unlikely of candidates to demonstrate the power of God’s love working in life and praise to the Lord. We have the examples of Ruth and a Samaritan Leper.
Both are on the edge of societal norms. Ruth is a widow and a foreigners in a foreign land. The Leper is considered unclean, under judgment by God and a Samaritan. Despite these societal restrictions, they show us faithful living. They are models of faith and love. Ruth’s words to Naomi proclaim her love and loyalty, not only to her mother-in-law, but to God: “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”
In the Gospel lesson, that love and faith is demonstrated through the actions of an outcast. He is one of ten lepers who call out to Jesus as he travels between Samaria and Galilee. As we’ve heard, Jesus sees them.
Jesus sees them.
Lepers were those with skin diseases, usually, and they were thought to be contagious, they were shunned and for all intents and purposes, invisible.
But Jesus sees them.
Imagine that those with him are averting their eyes, walking a little faster to get away, pretending not to notice, or fearful of contagion. Jesus’ recognition of the lepers shows us his compassion for the suffering and marginalized people in the world. Here is God’s love in action.
Then, something unexpected happens. One of them saw that he was healed and, rather than go and show himself to the priests as Jesus directed, he turns around and praises God – again, imagine the scene. The praises to God are probably shouts and cries of joy and amazement. He goes back to Jesus and throws himself at his feet, giving thanks. As Ruth’s words proclaim love of God, so too, are the Leper’s. Ruth and the Leper are doing what the Lord requires of all God’s children – worshipping and loving God.
We know that Ruth’s life improved and she went on to marry Boaz and bore Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David, and we trace that family line to Jesus. We don’t know what the Tenth Leper might have done. Perhaps he was reunited with his family, or started one, and continued to praise God and give thanks for all the blessings of his life, as I am sure Ruth and Naomi did. Perhaps he grew to old age and could tell his grandchildren about the teacher named Jesus who cured him, who was crucified as a criminal and yet rose on the third day.
What we can take from these two wonderful stories of love, faith and renewal is that God gives each one of us new lives and opportunities for praise. Each morning when we wake and thank God for yet another day to do His will, each time we receive the bread and wine, we receive a new life. How we praise God depends on our circumstances, and where we are in our lives. We may do as Jesus requires and keep his commandments – to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds and that we love another as Christ loves us.
That is praise indeed.
Go in peace, dear ones,