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From healing to faith

We can run the risk of reducing the message of today’s gospel to a lesson of good manners, to remember to say thank you to those who help us. 

The 10 lepers of the gospel represent all the people, the entire humanity far away from God. All of us—Luke wants to tell us—are lepers and need to encounter Jesus. No one is pure; we all carry on our skin the sign of death that only the word of Christ can cure.

Whoever is not aware of their own condition of being a sinner
ends up considering themselves righteous and with the duty to condemn others to the margins.

God has not created two worlds: one for the good and the other for the wicked, but—be it in the present or in the future—a unique world wherein he calls all his children to live together, all sinners saved by his love.

After stretching out his hand and curing them, Jesus could no longer enter a city publicly, but stayed outside in deserted places (Mark 1:45). 

Jesus knew that in touching the leper he was making a gesture that would leave him unclean and for that, he had to distance himself from the society of the pure.

He touched him all the same, because he chose to share the condition of the marginalised, excluded and outcast.

At the end, Jesus remains surprised: a Samaritan—a heretic, a non-believer—had a theological insight, which the nine Jews, sons of his people, educated in the faith and knowledgeable in the scriptures, did not have.

Along the way, all 10 were aware that Jesus was a healer. The great news was immediately announced to the spiritual guides of Israel.

God has visited his people. He has sent a prophet on par with Elisha. Until that point, all the 10 were still around.

But a new light brightened only in the mind and heart of the Samaritan. He understood that Jesus was more than a healer. In his act of salvation, the leper captured the message of God.

He, the heretic who did not believe in the prophets, had surprisingly intuited that God had sent the one announced the prophets: He opens the eyes of the blind, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead are raised to life and the lepers are made clean (Luke 7:22).

He is the first to truly grasp that God is not far from the lepers. He does not escape nor reject them.

He knew what he must say to those who institutionalised, in the name of God, the marginalisation of the lepers: to throw away the religion that excludes, judges and condemns the impure! In Jesus, the Lord appears in their midst; he touches and heals them.

The message of joy is this: the impure, the heretics, the marginalised are not only closer to God, but they get to him and to Christ first and in a more authentic way than the others.



Father Fernando Armellini SCJ        
Claretian Publications