Humility, Prayer, and Gratitude
12th Sunday of Luke 1-20-2013
By Fr Ted Toppses
Let us Review this morning’s Gospel from Luke 17:12-19
At that time, as Jesus entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." When He saw them He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus's feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus: "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And He said to him: "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."
Imagine if you were an outcast in society and that you had contracted a contagious disease which makes people run from you in fear of contracting the disease you have. This is the situation of the Samaritan who had Leprosy. He was an outcast in Jewish society because of his religion, and with Leprosy people ran from him and did not want to ever go near.
In the Gospel the ten lepers stood at a distance lifting up their voices because they knew that as lepers they were not allowed to get close to anyone. What did they cry? “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”. Jesus’ response to them was to “Go and show yourselves to the Priests.”
In Judaic law we see instructions for the diagnosis of Leprosy, specifically in Leviticus 13 in the Old Testament. It writes: And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: "When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body….
When someone with these ailments wanted to re-enter society, they would go to the priests so the priests would determine if they were ill or not, if they were found ill with leprosy they would be shunned or separated from normal society. Jesus asked them to go to the priests knowing they would be healed on the way and declared well.
The ten lepers were healed, and when the one of the ten realized he was healed, his reaction was to run back and fall at Jesus’ feet in gratitude.
There is a profound formula for spiritual life that is given to us in today’s Gospel. The formula that is given to us by this Gospel is number one humility, number two prayer, and number three gratitude. Humility is demonstrated in today’s Gospel for the lepers stood far away daring not to approach. Prayer is demonstrated in today’s Gospel for they cried out lifting up their voices for God’s Mercy, for Jesus to heal them. Gratitude and humility are both demonstrated in today’s Gospel by the healed man who prostrated himself on the ground in front of Jesus’ feet and gave him thanks.
Humility is needed in all prayer and spiritual activities, without it we are powerless against the traps of the devil in this life.
St Anthony the Great once said, ‘I saw the devil’s snares set all over the earth, and I groaned and said, “What can pass through them?” I heard a voice saying, “Humility”.’
PENGUIN GROUP (UK) (2003-03-27). The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks (Penguin Classics) (p. 148). Penguin UK. Kindle Edition.
The prayer of the ten lepers was "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.", this is not unlike the prayer we all must strive to say without ceasing “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God Have Mercy on me a sinner.” We must reach to God at all times.
Gratitude is giving thanks. We must feel a sense of gratitude to God who gives us all blessings, and we must thank the Lord every day in prayer.
I will now read a prayer of thanksgiving by St. Basil the Great
We bless Thee, O most high God and Lord of mercy,
Who art ever doing numberless great and inscrutable things for us––glorious and wonderful;
Who grants to us sleep for rest from our infirmities, and repose from the burdens of much toiling flesh.
We thank Thee that Thou hast not destroyed us with our sins, but hast loved us forever; and though we are sunk in despair, Thou hast raised us up to glorify thy power.
Therefore, we implore Thine incomparable goodness:
enlighten the eyes of our understanding and raise up our mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open our mouth and fill it with Thy praise, that we may be able––without distraction––to sing and confess Thee,
Who are God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, with Thine Only-begotten Son, and thine All-Holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.