The healing of the leprosy of Naaman the Syrian serves as a context for that of the ten lepers healed by Jesus. Naaman was persuaded to wash seven times in the Jordan River and, cured, he embraced faith in the God of Israel and, grateful to Elisha, decided to be faithful to him forever, also in his own land.
Lepers were not allowed to be approached, they were marginalized by the community, considered impure and guilty of great sins. In Luke's account their drama is captured in those two verbs: "They came to meet him" and "They stood afar off". They want to meet Jesus, but the law of Moses forbids them to approach him. They overcome the physical distance by crying out to him: "Have mercy on us," the request that in the Bible is addressed above all to God. They say it with one voice, an example of concorde prayer, calling him Master, declaring themselves his disciples. Jesus hears their prayer, and his first response is his gaze: he brings to this earth the benevolent gaze of God for the salvation of mankind: "The Lord looks down from heaven, he looks upon all men" (Ps 33:13). Then he tells them to present themselves before the priests, an order that might seem illogical: it was prescribed that the priests verify the healing and give permission to re-enter civil and religious society, but they were not yet healed! The lepers go anyway: they believe, like Naaman, who bathes in the Jordan. And their faith is rewarded: they are healed along the way. But only one returns to Jesus, full of gratitude: praising God with a loud voice, he prostrates himself at his feet to thank him. He believes that it is God who acts in Jesus. Luke points out: he is a Samaritan. This is also shocking because Jesus, in his greatness of heart, has sent him to the priests even though he does not belong to the people of Israel.
Once again in the Gospel, as with the centurion, it is a foreigner who has an exemplary faith. A faith that has led him to follow the impulse of his heart. The other nine were trapped by the haste to get the approval of the priests to re-enter their community and their family. They obeyed Jesus' instructions to the letter. The Samaritan, on the other hand, obeyed what his faith suggested to his heart, and that moved the heart of Jesus. His initial faith "purified" him, his full faith "saved" him. It was faith that prompted him to return to Jesus to show him his love, that helped him to dispense with the consensus of the nine others who thought otherwise, and to put gratitude to God and his relationship with Jesus before compliance with custom. It is the same priority that Paul reminds Timothy: "Remember Jesus Christ. With him we shall live, with him we shall reign.
Homily on the readings of the 25th Sunday of the year
The priest Luis Herrera Campo offers its nanomiliaa small one-minute reflection for these readings.