For reasons often difficult to comprehend individuals, groups, even entire societies developed a disdain for the rich. It’s an interesting phenomenon among us, humans, because given the choice to be richer than we currently are each of us would choose to be richer. It’s indeed interesting and even disturbing.
This pursuit of undermining the rich even developed into a political system - Communism - which wreaked havoc across the world during the twentieth century. But this isn’t just some political contriving to dominate large groups of people, other political systems conquered and oppressed people. Actually, the disdain for the rich exists in many of us, perhaps in all of us to some degree. This human experience is present in the Bible also. There are some who would accuse Jesus Christ of discriminating against the rich based on His statement from the St. Luke’s gospel (18:25) “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” One chapter further St. Luke relates the story of Zacchaios (Luke 19:1-10) where we see a rich man given a great blessing. Of course, this rich man is a shining example of searching for the Lord Jesus and opening his heart and his family home to welcome Him.
I firmly believe the Lord Jesus isn’t at all concerned with our earthly net worth, rather with our hearts, minds, and lives in relation to everything we earn and spend. The renewed Zachaios considered it a privilege to be able to share his wealth with those in need. Being poor or rich doesn’t affect our salvation. The rich, just like the poor, are called to holiness through love, repentance, compassion, and charity. This is how our lives are deemed worthy of the kingdom of God.
Today’s Gospel reading from the Evangelist Luke 17:12-19 forces us to examine ourselves. The brief passage relates the story of the ten lepers who are healed by the Lord Jesus Christ at their fervent request. Sadly, only one of them returns to thank his healer. Jesus asks, rhetorically, where the other nine lepers who were healed are.
Of note is the fact that the ten men who were severely ill suffered from an illness separated them from their homes and families. The second notable detail opens the reading in verse 12 where all the lepers recognize Jesus as their Master who can offer them healing. They approach Him calling out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Showing that they recognized Him as a source of goodness and compassion for their lives.
Interestingly, unlike other healings that Jesus performed for people, in this case the Lord sends the ten ill men to show themselves to the priests. This would have been a requirement for them as people suffering from leprosy were deemed religiously unclean in addition to being social outcasts. However, they are all healed as they head to show themselves to the priests.
Unfortunately only one of them, a foreigner to the people of Israel, returns filled with thanksgiving and gratitude to the Lord Jesus the source and instrument of his healing.
We often forget where the source of good in our lives lies! Once all goes well in our lives we seem to easily forget both our previous suffering as well as how fervently we prayed asking for God’s mercy on us. Examining our lives we easily find times when we have acted like the ungrateful nine lepers rather than the one who returned. May we be blessed to mindfully remember to be thankful for the mercy and blessings of our Lord Jesus and Master who has mercy on us.