October 13, 2019
18th Sunday after Pentecost
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
Something to Do
Prostrating yourself (lying face down on the ground) is not something we do very often. It’s a very dramatic gesture which takes some effort to execute and leaves us very vulnerable and pretty uncomfortable. It signifies an intensity of emotion and a complete self-giving, whether in service or in gratitude or in despair. In this week’s Gospel, the healed Samaritan prostrates himself before Jesus as an act of radical gratitude.
Prostration is sometimes used liturgically. In some diocese, ordinands prostrate themselves during the prayers that come right before they are ordained. In some churches, the clergy prostrate themselves at the beginning of the Good Friday service during a time of silent prayer.
I don’t think we are going to introduce prostration into our liturgy at Ascension but you could try it out during a time of private prayer (or have your kids try it out while you say a prayer of thanksgiving and/or dedication). It will probably feel silly at first but hold on for a little and see what happens. What other feelings rise within you? What does the prayer become?
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back…
Sometimes, we don’t say thank you because we don’t notice the gifts we have been given. Spend some time this week taking stock of where you have experienced healing or growth. Say thank you to the people who have contributed to that gift. Say thank you to God (maybe while lying prostrate…)
Something to Wonder
Your faith has made you well
This is a familiar refrain in the Gospel healing stories but, in this story, it comes after the healing has been received which suggests that the wellness that has come through faith is about more than the physical healing.
In what ways has your faith made you well?
Imagine how the lepers felt when they saw Jesus coming into their village. They had obviously heard of him and knew he had a reputation as a powerful healer. I wonder if they were sceptical or hopeful or nervous or…
And how did they feel when all he did was tell them to go and show themselves to the priest. And when they realized that they were healed?
What do you think the 9 lepers who did not return to Jesus did?
Something to Learn
Speaking of Samaritans…
The Jewish Encyclopaedia offers a long but skimmable article on the history of the Samaritan people and their relationship with the Jews.
And CNN has a short and fascinating article on the very tiny modern Samaritan community that continues to live in Israel and Palestine today.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.