13 October, Sunday – The Power of Him

13 October 2019


2 Kings 5:14-17

Naaman the leper went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.

  Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel. Now, please, accept a present from your servant.’

  But Elisha replied, ‘As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing.’ Naaman pressed him to accept, but he refused.

  Then Naaman said, ‘Since your answer is “No,” allow your servant to be given as much earth as two mules may carry, because your servant will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.’


2 Timothy 2:8-13

Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.

  Here is a saying that you can rely on:

If we have died with him, then we shall live with him.
If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him.
If we disown him, then he will disown us.
We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful,
for he cannot disown his own self.


Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ Now as they were going away they were cleansed. Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, ‘Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.’ And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’


Your faith has healed you

Today, both the first reading and the Gospel are about lepers being healed. How does this parable relate to me and the world of the 21st century?

With the help of Google, I learned that today about 180,000 people worldwide, most in Africa and Asia, are infected with leprosy, a slow growing type of bacteria. This is an infectious disease that can only transferred from close repeated contact with the nose and mouth droplets of someone with untreated leprosy. Leprosy causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around the body and dates back to ancient times, often surrounded by terrifying, negative stigmas with lepers shunned as outcasts. Outbreaks of leprosy have affected, and panicked, people on every continent. The oldest civilizations of China, Egypt, and India feared leprosy was an incurable, mutilating, and contagious disease.

Because leprosy is/was such a visual disease, it is a perfect choice for parables.

When I hear the word leprosy, my thoughts immediately go to biblical and ancient times, and Fr. Damien in the Hawaiian Islands. I remember the movie ‘Ben Hur’ from 1959, and the moving scene when we see that Miriam and Tirzah have been healed of their leprosy as they stand in the rivers of rain streaming down the hill, mixed with the blood of Jesus, after His crucifixion.

In Luke, only one of the 10 returns to thank Jesus – I’ve always thought the other 9 were cured but were so caught up in the happiness of no longer being disfigured that their gratitude wasn’t initially evident. Upon reflection, a few others thoughts crossed my mind. Did only one REALIZE he’d been cured? Was only one cured because he had faith? The lepers asked for pity, not healing – so did only one even think healing was possible?

And — the most personal — where do I have leprosy in my own life? Where have I been healed of internal leprosy and not been thankful, thinking that my self determination, my will power, my intelligence, my… whatever is what ‘fixed’ me, when it fact it was His grace showing me mercy?

When have I been like the other nine and not recognized the grace? Not shown gratitude for His mercy? The answer is evident. Every day. Every single day.

So how does the parable relate to us today, in the 21st century?

In today’s world we are so bombarded with books and podcasts, and even prosperity gospel sermons shouting to us that we have the power, that self-help is the answer. We can ‘fix’ ourselves,  the sky is the limit,  power of the mind, power of habit, power of intention, power of these 6 steps, power of these 11 laws, power of getting out of the boat, power of vision boards, power of self talk…… power of You’re Okay, I’m Okay (a best seller from the 1970s). And therein lies the great lie. All those books and podcasts speak much human truth, we should adhere to the wisdom they contain, but we must stop short of a total buy-in. We cannot predict, nor even truly design our future. We do what we can and see where and how God comes in.

After all, if you and I were actually ‘okay’, then we wouldn’t need a Savior.  But we aren’t, and we do, and we have one!  And THAT, brothers and sisters, is the Good News.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Father God you are the Good Help, the Good Hope, the Only All, True, Loving God. And we are amazed at your perfect and perfecting love.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for your abounding grace and the mercy that flows from that grace all over us every day. Every single day. We pray that we will give grace and mercy to all those around us.

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