Friday, October 11, 2013

Believing without giving thanks

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
October 13, 2013

Luke 17:11-19

The story begins telling of the healing of a group of ten lepers in the vicinity of Samaria. But, this time, Luke doesn't dwell on the details of the healing, but on the reaction of one of the lepers on seeing himself cured. The evangelist carefully describes all his steps, since he wants to shake up the routine faith of many Christians.

Jesus has asked the lepers to present themselves to the priests to get the authorization that allows them to integrate into society. But one of them, of Samaritan origin, on seeing that he is cured, instead of going to the priests, comes back to look for Jesus. He feels that a new life is beginning for him. Going forward, everything will be different. He will be able to live in a more dignified and happy way. He knows to whom it's due. He needs to meet Jesus.

He returns "glorifying God in a loud voice." He knows that Jesus' saving strength could only originate from God. Now he feels new because of that Good Father Jesus talks about. He will never forget it. Henceforth he will live giving thanks to God. He will praise Him, screaming with all his might. Everyone must know that he feels loved by Him.

On meeting Jesus, "he falls at his feet and thanks him." His companions have followed their path to meet with the priests, but he knows that Jesus is his only savior. Therefore he's here next to him, giving him thanks. In Jesus, he has found the best gift of God.

At the end of the story, Jesus speaks and asks three questions, expressing surprise and sadness at what happened. They aren't directed towards the Samaritan at his feet. They contain the message that Luke wants to be heard in the Christian communities.

"Ten were cleansed, were they not?". Weren't they all healed? Why don't they recognize what they have received from Jesus? "Where are the other nine?". Why aren't they here? Why are there so many Christians who live without hardly ever giving thanks to God? Why don't they feel a special gratitude towards Jesus? Don't they know him? Doesn't he mean anything new to them?

"Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?". Why are there people who are alienated from religious practice who feel true admiration and gratitude towards Jesus, while some Christians don't feel anything special for him? Benedict XVI warned some years ago that an agnostic who is searching may be closer to God than a routine Christian who is such only by tradition or heritage. A faith that doesn't generate joy and thankfulness in believers is a faith that is sick.

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