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Running our lives in circles

January 17th, 2011 by Fr. Vasile

The miracle of healing of the ten lepers, is generally perceived as an exposition of the importance of gratitude in our lives. There is however another aspect I would like to stress today. The essential piece for its understanding lays in Christ’s words addressed to the cured Samaritan returning to offer his gratitude for the healing: And He said unto him, Arise, go your way: your faith has made you whole (Luke 17:19)

The other nine, ungrateful, lepers did not hear the same words, save a bitter reproof from Christ. They were not called “whole”, like the Samaritan, because they lacked a crucial virtue the Samaritan exhibited: faith.

Without faith, which is recognizing and trusting the power of God, we are not whole, something is missing. If we don’t recognize Christ as the only driving force in our lives, despite our honest efforts, we are lost without a compass and cannot advance, but we are stuck, running in circles getting nowhere.

I read in a recent scientific paper that if man does not have a point of reference he is condemned to walk in circles. Their experiment showed that those who walk under a cloudy sky move in circles and cross their own paths repeatedly without noticing. Others, who can see the Sun are able to walk in straight lines, except for when it is obscured by clouds. It looks like lost people double back on themselves unless they have a marker, such as the Sun or Moon, to guide their way.

In a similar fashion the nine lepers got lost in the cloud of their self-righteousness and missed the reward that was greater than their bodily healing. The Samaritan however found his reference point, Christ, the Sun of righteousness and turned, walking toward Him, ultimately regaining his wholesomeness and entering in communion with God.

Our own lives are also deeply obscured by the great cloud of secularism dawning on us and we are often lost without anyone to guide us. So we wonder around in life, going in circles, asking ourselves if there will ever be a destination, if our journey through life is not probably pointless. It is difficult to find our way if we can barely see occasional rays of faith shyly beaming on our ungrateful and proud society.

We all need Christ as our reference point, as our true North. In Him we discover both the journey and the destination. The path might be difficult at times, we might have to cross rivers of suffering, valleys of sorrow, mountains of procrastinations, but is the right path because we can clearly see Christ at the end of it calling us: “Well done, good and faithful servant; […] enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

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6 responses so far ↓

  • I agree that this gospel must be about more than simply writing thank you notes. It is the invitation to receive the fulness of Christ’s life.

    While nine lepers celebrate new skin, only one leper celebrates the creator and restorer of new skin. While nine lepers hear the priests say, “You are clean,” only one leper hears the God-Man say, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

    If the gospel statistics are any indiction then ninety percent of us live life at skin level. Jesus offers more. He desires more for us than we often desire for ourselves. What Jesus does for the one he offers to all. “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?” It is not a rebuke. It is an invitation.

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    • Agree, even when He exposes our sins, Christ is still full of love and hopes that we will turn to Him.

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  • So what do you think the “clouds” are analogous to in the spiritual realm?

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    • It’s an interesting question. In the bible we usually see clouds used as a sort of barrier between our world and God’s realm. There was a cloud on Mt. Sinai, there was a cloud in the desert, there was a cloud on mount Tabor etc.

      This is however a barrier that God puts up to protect us from seen all of His glory that we probably could not sustain. He breaks it sometimes (as He did on mt. Tabor) and we get glimpses of it, but these even prove unbearable by us (the disciples fell down when they saw Christ transfigured). So is a protective barrier.

      This is different from what I was talking about in my blurb. I was trying to speak about setting a barrier of clouds from our side that de-links us from God. It is something that if it is wide enough, like the secularization of our society, will cloud the vision of most people and jeopardize their access to the spiritual realm as you named it.

      This barrier however can be penetrated. If one wants to know God, even in an atheistic society, he can do it. It might be difficult, but it can be done; if one has faith one can raise above the clouds that obscure his life and see the Sun of righteousness.

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  • Bless, Father Vasile, I wholly subscribe to the aspect you bring forward, to a detail : the nine other did have business, as Jews, going to see a priest to be recognized as healed, as was cast in the Jew’s holy law, the Torah, as the only way to be once more accepted in Jewish society. As for the tenth, since he was a Samaritan, there was no point in going to see a Jewish Priest, who would necessarily have had to turn him down as being a “Goy”., a stranger to the Torah.
    But this Samaritan, reflecting on the profound meaning of priesthood, that is, the one person in that day’s society invested in the power to heal, chose to see in Christ the Divine Healer and true priest. The fact that the nine others chose to obey Jesus and to seek acknowledgement of their healing by their Jewish priest does not make them camp in the role of the ungrateful, but that of the obedient. The fact that no more is said of them would be, I think, because there is nothing more to be said about them, as the one who recognizes the Healer is the center of our attention, as you so aptly also indicate. I agree there are also other undertones to the teaching, namely about those who deserve and those who do not, or those who see Christ in Jesus and those who don’t, etc. but they would also be peripherical to the main subjetc.

    Humbly proferred,
    Frère Élie

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    • Nice to hear back from you Fr. Elie! Agree, indeed the Jews did not do anything else but follow the rules. However this was not any moment in their lives, it was the moment where they were healed from the worst disease one could have imagined. Yet, they chose to ignore the One that healed them and move on with their lives without going first to thank Jesus for their healing. Their priority and timing was off, not the fact that they went to the priests. It would have taken them probably few minutes to turn back, say thank you and them go to the priests.
      I read a comment about this Gospel suggesting even that once they saw themselves cleansed they did not wanted to go back to Christ because they knew He was dis-considered by many prominent Jews and did not wanted to be associated with Him and jeopardize their re-integration in the Jewish society.
      Here is what St. Theophilact of Bulgaria says: “The Jews, even though they were cleansed by the Lord of the uncleanness of their sins, they showed themselves as ungrateful and did not turned back form their empty ways to give glory to God Who saved them”
      Also I think we hear about them in an indirect way from Christ Himself Who calls them ungrateful:” And answering, Jesus said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were none found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? (Luk 17:17-18) Did He not knew that they had to show themselves to the priests? Of course, He gave them the Law, yet he calls them responsible for not giving the right glory to God.
      Just my opinion.
      In Christ,
      fr vasile

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