28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Lord, Open My Lips
(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel to your child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection, then read the Gospel, then continue with the reflection.)
A strange thing happens in the Gospel for this Sunday.
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
Ten people who are sick ask Jesus for mercy.
(This is not the strange part.)
The disease these people have is very contagious. It is so contagious that they have to live away from everyone else. They cannot live with their families because their families would get sick, too. We can imagine how they feel, having to live away from the people they love.
The ten people ask Jesus for mercy—to heal them—because they have faith in God. They are certain that Jesus can heal them. Their faith gives God room to act.
When Jesus saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.
God acts. As they are walking away, Jesus heals the ten people.
(This is not the strange part either, although it is wonderful!!!)
Now the strange thing happens.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.
One person, seeing that he is well again, begins to praise God, telling the world of the great things that God has done.
One person makes himself small before the greatness of God, lying down at Jesus' feet. One person comes back to thank Jesus.
Only one person. Ten people are healed, but only one praises God.
Who is this one person?
And he was a Samaritan.
The Samaritans and the Jewish people do not get along. Samaritans do not worship God in the same way as the Jewish people. They avoid each other as much as possible. Walking from Galilee to Jerusalem, most Jewish people would go around Samaria, even though it would take longer. It is odd, then, that Jesus travels through Samaria to get to Jerusalem.
Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?
Good question. What are they thinking? They are healed; they can now return to their families. Why do they not thank Jesus? We do not know.
Only the Samaritan praises God when he is healed.
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
Jesus says that the ten people are healed because of their faith in God.
Ten people receive mercy. Only one responds to the gift with praise.
We can guess that only one of them is in right-relationship with God.
There is an ancient Jewish prayer in Psalm 51:
Jewish people begin each day with this prayer. This is part of the Christian faith, too.
People respond to the gift of another new day, the gift of God's mercy, with praise.
Perhaps this week we can make this our prayer as we get out of bed in the morning. Then we, too, can shout with joy of the greatness of our God.