Ordinary 28 Year C
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
St. Luke 17: 11 — 19
In the early verses of Luke 17 we read of the Apostles asking our Lord to “increase our faith”. They wanted to be able to forgive and trust as He required, but they had found His standards a “tall order”, as we might say. His reply emphasised that to be a believer is not a matter for self-congratulation, because to be so is in fact a privilege, and its demands, merely one’s duties. So important is this understanding, that we attach in Appendix 1 a magnificent commentary on the text by Joseph Dillersberger.
St Luke carries on the theme of being privileged to have the faith, with an incident, almost like a parable. This continues not only to strengthen their faith, but also to expand its scope.
Some Notes on our Text
As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled
through Samaria and Galilee.
To set the scene we find Jesus now on his way to Jerusalem, travelling along the border between Samaria and Galilee. The usual road in travelling from the north of Palestine would be through Galilee first, and then through Samaria. However, having been barred from the latter, he travelled along the boundary between the two regions, to the river Jordan, and then followed the course of that river down to Jericho, at which location we find him in the next chapter. (Remember, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem — his meandering spiritual journey, and it is nearing culmination.)
Verses 12 and 13
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him).
They stood at a distance from him
and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master!
Have pity on us!”
The group stood at a distance, and called out (i.e. called across to him) in a loud voice “Jesus, Master, have pity (or mercy) on us.” The scholars tell us the Greek text indicates their words suggest respectful (and hopeful) submission rather than an intimate relationship or any degree of following. By this time our Lord’s reputation as a worker of miracles had certainly spread widely. Their plea is a traditional request to be healed. They are all so miserable in their life as outcasts, that the members of this group completely overlook their membership of two races (Samaritan and Jew) who would normally never mix.
And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves
to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed.
Jesus did not immediately notice them, but when He saw them He gave them a very specific direction without any elaboration:
“Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
This order is implicitly a promise of healing and they know it, and respond accordingly. Normally this order would have been more appropriate after a cure, but these men ask no questions and make no demands — they all trust the One to whom they made their desperate plea.
Ryle has a helpful note on this verse.
Show yourselves unto the priests. The meaning of this direction
will be obvious to all who are familiar with the 13th and 14th chapters
of Leviticus. The priests were specially appointed by God to be the
judges of all leprous cases, to decide whether the leper was clean or
unclean, cured or uncured. Moreover there was a special injunction to
attend to the rules laid down in Leviticus about leprosy, in the book of
Deuteronomy: “Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe
diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall
teach you.” (Deuteronomy 24: 8.)
A Jewish leper would, doubtless, take particular note of our Lord’s direction to “Go to the priests,” and accept it as a hint that he would hear good tidings on showing himself to them.
It has been doubted whether our Lord meant only the Jewish priests, in giving this direction. Some have thought that He meant the Samaritan leper to go to the Samaritan priests on Mount Gerizim. This however appears somewhat uncertain. There is no clear proof that the Samaritan priests undertook the decision of leprous cases.
The text continues:
“As they were going, they were cleansed”.
The delayed cure took place during their act of trust and obedience. Probably it was not far down the road, as our Lord was still to be found in the same location soon after.
Verses 15 and 16
And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned,
glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was
Thus we observe one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He threw himself at the feet of Jesus, thanking him. He was a Samaritan. (almost the equivalent of a foreign pagan. Refer to Appendix 2 Note On The Samaritans from Geldenhuys’ commentary on Luke).
The other nine rushed off to be formally restored to their society so they could enjoy its benefits. (The structure of the Greek text indicates they were all cleansed at the same time.) Their casual attitude shows how little people can profit from exposure to miracles when it is really only the healing they are seeking: not the healer.
The Samaritan, on the other hand, reacted quite differently. His first thoughts were turned to his deliverer: he was so overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s mercy that he forgot all Samarian protocol about mixing with a Jew. All he could think of was in some way returning the kindness. Even at this exciting time, for him, the Healer took priority over the healing.
Thus the Samaritan alone demonstrates the quintescence of Jewish spirituality: to bless God — to give glory to God for His lovingkindness’s.
This is a moment to pause and make sure we take in the intended message of our Lord. One of the healed, and only one, as soon as he realised what had taken place, burst out, “in a loud voice”, giving glory to God as he made his way back to Jesus. This reaction obviously pleased our Lord, and the early Church held it up to its members to emulate.
Verses 17 and 18
Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Jesus was moved by this man’s warmth and humility. Were not all ten made clean?” He asked, “Where are the other nine?” (In other words, “Shouldn’t they know better?”) We should note that the Jewish use of the term “stranger” or “foreigner” means literally: “One of another nation”.
This is a very important moment in the incident and our Lord focuses attention on it quite deliberately. It is commonly remarked that the nine let Him down: that it took a “foreigner” to do the proper thing. This observation is, of course, absolutely correct. However, if our judgment stops at assigning blame to the nine, and writing them off as unworthy of the miracle performed for their benefit, then we could easily miss the lesson our Lord is delivering. He constantly illustrates what is so very human, but not up to His standards. It is an ever-present danger which we also must be always on-guard to counter.
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has
Our Lord then released the Samaritan from further display of gratitude and told him to go on his way. As He did so He made a most amazing statement — not that this man’s obedience led to his leprosy being cured, but much more spectacularly:
“Your faith has saved you”.
People who identify strongly with one particular form of religion are often offended when someone of a different religion is told, “Your faith has saved you”. It is often referred to as heresy to talk in this way. Our Lord, however, is emphatic in His explanation to the Samaritan. Thus He implies:
“When you ‘saw’ that you were healed, you beheld with the eye of inward faith, and you were the only one who did. This faith saved you — leading not only to your body being healed, but your soul also. All were cured, but you have been healed in the true and fullest sense of the word.”
It is surprising how many people there are who know virtually nothing of the Faith but can come out with the main points of this Gospel incident. People remember the gratitude of the one rather than the self pre-occupation of the nine. How grateful the Lord was for the one person’s profound appreciation. Therein lies an opportunity for us to show — not just think — real gratitude for the blessings we have received and to allow others to perceive this in us. In this way we acknowledge the goodness of God in our lives, and let others have an inside view of the value we place on our membership of God’s Household. Such seemingly minor actions on our part are the real frontier of evangelisation. They are incontestable and powerful evidence of the Presence of God.
The Example of the Samaritan
From: The Gospel of St Luke by Joseph Dillersberger (1939)
In the first place our attention is once more drawn to the fact that all
The Samaritan, however, felt his healing as such an extraordinary gift
Thus he became a complete model for the apostles in connection with
But by means of the example of the Samaritan, Our Lord tries to show
Therefore his only feeling is one of gratitude and humility.
We make this comment in response to three points raised in the above notes.
So many commentators miss the point and leave their readers with the view: the
However the warning is for all religious people pointing out how human it is to
Note On The Samaritans
After the carrying off of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, a large number
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(Mark 16: 15)
The real Jesus is the real answer to the real needs of the world.
Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in doing so,
Ordinary Sunday 28 Year C St. Luke 17: 11 — 19
1 “And one of them, realising he had been healed, returned
2 It is often remarked that Jews in our Lord’s time, saw themselves
3 Most of us find it so very natural to classify other people as
Let us pray for one another in our outreach — modest or
Luke 17: 11 — 19
Ordinary 28 Year C
11 3 4 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through
12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood
13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the
15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying
16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a
17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are
18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
3 [11-19] This incident recounting the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper is narrated only in Luke’s gospel and provides an instance of Jesus holding up a non-Jew (⇒ Luke 17:18) as an example to his Jewish contemporaries (cf ⇒ Luke 10:33 where a similar purpose is achieved in the story of the good Samaritan). Moreover, it is the faith in Jesus manifested by the foreigner that has brought him salvation (⇒ Luke 17:19; cf the similar relationship between faith and salvation in ⇒ Luke 7:50; ⇒ 8:48, ⇒ 50).
4  Through Samaria and Galilee: or, “between Samaria and Galilee.”
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition