October 13, 2019
XXVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time, Anno C
Last Sunday we saw the disciples asking Jesus to give them great faith (Lk 17:6), and we’ve seen that, for Jesus, it is not so important that faith is great in terms of amount, as it is a living faith, like the seed is living, which grows and becomes a tree that bears fruit.
Today (Lk 17:11-19), on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus meets a group of people and recognizes a great faith in one of them, so great as to be able to save his live.
From this encounter, we can recognize a two-fold teaching of Jesus.
First, Jesus says what faith is.
The miracle described in today’s passage is very unusual: ten lepers ask Jesus to heal them. In answer to their request, Jesus does not make some gesture, nor does He pronounce some word that can bring about the healing. He simply sends them to the priests.
All ten lepers have faith in Jesus to the point of asking Him for healing. And all ten, again, have faith to the point of setting out on the way to the priests even before seeing themselves healed.
But only one has faith that saves him, that is only in one does faith reach its fulfillment, its maturation. Faith that saves belongs to one who, on seeing himself healed, turns to Jesus to do two things, to worship and give thanks. That is, to express one’s faith, one’s appreciation of the One who has healed him, and to say “thanks” (Lk 11:16), praising God in a loud voice, proclaiming and singing his joy (Lk 11:15).
So, we could say that faith is this, it is the path that continually turns to the place where one experienced salvation, that lives a continuous gratitude, that is continually amazed by the gift received. Therefore there is no other before Him who gave life anew.
The other nine, instead, seeing themselves healed, continue their way to the priests. It was the task of the priests to ascertain the healing so that those who were infected could be readmitted to social company.
For the nine, this is more important and more urgent than saying thanks Jesus and, somehow, they are closed within their own healing.
The Samaritan leaves, he is not even bothered about being proclaimed healed, because the urgent need is to simply praise God. Everything else is secondary, or irrelevant.
In that case, we could even say that faith is born in the prayer of supplication, and is then fulfilled in prayer of praise and gratitude. And, turning to the Gospel of last Sunday, we could add that faith like this is that of the mustard seed, small, but alive and tenacious, capable of uprooting the mulberry tree and transplant it in the sea (Lk 17:6).
The second teaching concerns the disciple. Jesus presents a model of a believer.
The only one to turn and give thanks to Jesus was not a regular person of the chosen people, with all the necessary credentials to be able to worship God correctly.
He was instead a Samaritan, namely a heretic and schismatic, considered on a par with a pagan. Well, precisely in him Jesus recognizes great faith.
So, once again, we are told that the believer is not distinguished by ethnicity or tribal belonging, by an observance, a title, or a perfect profession of faith, but by a personal movement of the heart, by a capacity to entrust himself to the Lord, by the ability to say “thanks”.