Tuesday 8 October 2013

The ten lepers

I joined the Deacons of our community for lectio divina this morning, and the text was Lk 17:11-19, the cure of the ten lepers. Thanks also to the bilingual Greek-English New Testament that Eric gave me last year, all sorts of new things came up from the text. "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us," the ten cry out, from a distance.

The village that Jesus is entering is on the border of Samaria and Galilee, and I know Vernet pointed that village out to us, though I've quite forgotten the name. A nondescript village in the Palestinian side. The lepers are obviously outside the village, and they dare not approach Jesus. So they cry out, from a distance: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." IESOU EPISTATA, ELEESON HEMAS. Not exactly Kyrie eleison, but close enough: Master, have mercy on us. What a wonderful prayer, and what a wonderful way of recognizing at least in some way who Jesus is: he is Master, and he is one who can have mercy on us.

And Jesus: he does not touch them. He commands them, he tells them, he speaks to them, he gives them a word: Go and show yourselves to the priests. And then the ten are cleansed, and one turns back, praising God with a loud voice, and falls on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. KAI EPESEN EPI PROSOPON PARA TOUS PODAS AUTOU EUCHARISTON AUTO.

And he, a Samaritan. All sorts of levels and echoes in this text. Liturgical, but also the liturgy that is life: communion, fellowship, Jesus who breaks barriers, who inaugurates the new family of God, who dies that he might bring into one the scattered children of God.

And then Jesus: Where are the other nine? Jesus who commands, and then strangely expects his command to be flouted. Where are the other nine? "Neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, but in spirit and in truth." Jesus, the new Temple. Are there times when we need to flout the word of Jesus?

And then finally: Rise and go your way. ANASTAS POREUOU. Stand up and go your way is a poor translation, missing all the echoes of Rise, Resurrection, ANASTAS.

"Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. Wash us by your word. Raise us up to life in you."

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