St. Andrews-Cheney Memorial Church
November 1996


Only One

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, "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 cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."

(St. Luke 17:11-19 RSV)

From a distance the group of ten lepers began to cry out to Jesus, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." They had undoubtedly seen or heard of Jesus' miraculous power. Out of compassion for their pitiful condition, Jesus called back to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests."

The lepers knew what Jesus meant. He was telling them to go to the priests to be examined to see if they had been delivered from leprosy and to receive certification of the cleansing so that they might rejoin society. This was all in accordance with the Mosaic Law.

Leprosy was the most feared of all the ancient diseases. It was a living death. Leprosy slowly destroyed one's body. Fingers would eventually fall off or even an entire hand or foot would be lost. Leprosy destroyed one's family and place in society, for a leper was not allowed to live in contact with healthy people. It also destroyed a person's livelihood and reduced him to a beggar.

As those ten lepers went to the priests that day they were cleansed of that dread disease. All were cleansed, but only one returned to thank Jesus for the healing. Why was he the only thankful one? What is it that produces thankfulness and what inhibits it?

First, there must be a recognition of God's blessings. This was an unusual miracle because the healing didn't take place immediately. As they went to find a priest, possibly they had walked two or three miles, they looked at each other and at their own hands and behold the leprosy was gone.

Some of them may not have made the connection between Christ's words and their healing - Christ was far away, not right their with them at the moment of deliverance. There are people who have a naturalistic outlook on life. They hold that there is no direct divine intervention in the affairs of men or nature. Christ's words were merely coincidental to the healing.

Such a view is erroneous. It is God who overrules all so called natural events. We should recognize His hand and be thankful.

The lack of gratitude in the nine lepers could be traced to sheer presumption. They may have said, "We don't need to go back all that distance and thank Jesus personally. He knows we're thankful."

How many of us have gone out of our way to do some good for a person and were never thanked? We didn't like the apparent ingratitude, did we? God of course does know if we are thankful or not, but we still need to express our thankfulness to Him. If for no other reason, we need to remind ourselves of all the good He has done for us.

One of the men healed of leprosy did return to thank Jesus. Why? Because thanking the One who had healed him was more important than going to the priest.

If we are to be thankful, our priorities must be right. The giver of a gift is more important than the gift itself. Nine of the cured lepers rushed on to the priests to receive their certificates of purity which would allow them to return to normal life. One, however, was more interested in the Healer than in the healing. So he returned to thank Him.

It's easy to become so excited about a gift that we forget the one who gave it. All parents have had the experience of having to remind a child to thank the grandparent or aunt or uncle who has given the child some new toy. The child sees the toy and hurries off to play with it, forgetting the giver in his excitement over the gift. Sometimes we act like such children in our relationship with God.

When the one thankful man returned, Jesus was amazed that he came alone and noted that he was a Samaritan. Were the others Jews? That could be the implication.

Supposing that they were Jews, they were part of a privileged group. And they had grown accustomed to that privileged position. Many a Jew had come to consider his blessings, his due.

Not so the Samaritan. There was a true sense of unworthiness in his manner. Samaritans were always astonished that Jesus took an interest in them.

Our degree of thankfulness depends on our view of ourselves and our position. When we begin to take God's blessings for granted we lose our sense of unworthiness and consequently our thankfulness. If we still have the capacity to marvel that God would save and bless creatures like us, we will ever be thankful.

Jesus was amazed that only one came back to thank Him. May He never be so amazed with us.

Frank M. Levi


United Thanksgiving Eve Service

November 27, 1996 - 7:30 pm
St. Julie Billiart Church
7399 W. 159th Street
Sponsored by the Tinley Park Ministerial Association.

Feast of St. Andrew

Saturday, November 30, 1996.
Bring a dish for dinner in the Parish Hall at 6:30 pm.
Evening Prayer will be read in the Chapel at 7:30 pm.

Invite others to come with you. The offering will go to World Relief to help in the effort to combat world hunger.

Rich Rewards
by Helen Kitchell Evans

Fall brings us rich rewards;
The harvest of abundant grain,
A lingering warmth of feeling
Across the valley and the plain.

In this season we recapture the
Abiding love of our friends;
The wonders of God's world;
His greatness never ends.

Today let's go out for a stroll
And call upon someone in need;
Gladden the hearts of the aged or
Go wherever our Lord might lead.

Veterans Day

As we observe Veterans Day on Monday, November 11th, let us fly the flag of our nation and remember in prayer all the men and women who have served this country.

Missionary of The Month

Drs. Lydia and Nirmal K. Bachan
Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital
Lalitpur, U.P. 284 403 INDIA

November 28, 1996

"It is good to give thanks unto the Lord."

(Psalm 92:1)

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