As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
There is a deeper irony in Jesus using the Samaritans time and time again to teach lessons in the Gospels. Jesus uses the Parable of the Good Samaritan earlier in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:25-37) and the women at the well in John’s Gospel (John 4:4-42) – who was also a Samaritan – to teach all of us some very important lessons. You see, in Biblical times, the Jewish people and the Samaritans were at odds with each other as Samaritan’s were often seen as having left some of their ancient Hebrew traditions when the Assyrian’s took over the Kingdom of Israel (in 721+ BC). The Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees looked down upon Samaritans who they saw as former Jewish people who had knowingly mixed interracially and inter-religiously with the Assyrians. You see, Jesus has a way of using the wayward child/peoples (e.g. the Samaritans, the Prodigal Son, Saul (St. Paul), Judas Iscariot), the weakest amongst us (e.g. Esther, King David, Jesus coming as an infant, St. Mary), and the outcasts (e.g. the lepers, the poor (Lazarus, the old lady with the coin), the Gentiles (the bleeding woman, the Centurion, etc.)), etc. to teach us the most important things in this life – the two Greatest Commandments. To love God with all of our hearts, minds, and Souls and to love each other the same way. Jesus once said that if we are to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, we must have the Faith of Child (Matthew 18:2-6), the Faith of a Mustard Seed (Matthew 17:20), the Faith of the Father who’s Son was dying (Mark 9:23-25)… So, when we feel like we’re losing our Faith (or that it’s weakening), we must humble ourselves like all of these people did; and, as soon as possible, we must get to His Body and Blood, spend more time in His Word (the Bible), and take up our Crosses and follow Him. Like Jesus reminds us in the two Greatest Commandments, our focus should never be on us – it should always be on Jesus first and others second. In our Ministry, we call it going from the “universe of me” to the “Eternity of He and we”.