Most of us are familiar with the social treatment of lepers in the time of Christ and throughout history. At that time their bacterial infections were incurable, and they were banished society, living together outside of towns. Those with leprosy lived for years with the infection, as social outcasts, and eventually died. Here, in the Gospel of Saint Luke, ten of them encounter Jesus, begging Him for mercy. He simply tells them to show themselves to the priests, who would let those healed of leprosy back into society. They believe Him, go on their way, and notice that on their way they were healed. Only the Samaritan turns back to thank Jesus, and while the others don’t cease to be healed, the Samaritan is the one who has the personal contact with Jesus and thanks Him for the mercy that He has shown.
Just as the lepers received physical healing through the Holy Spirit, we have received spiritual healing. Saint Paul tells us of our own sickness, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, . . . but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” We have been cleansed in our Baptism, not through our own merits, but through the mercy of God. And further, we are to go to His priests to receive further healing mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I often find that when I go to Confession, I am confessing many of the same sins over and over again, and in some ways I am still a “slave to my various passions.” But Christ wants to heal me and free me from this slavery, and the way to do so is to continue to confess my sins and express gratitude and praise to God for His mercy. And He does more than just forgive, He renews us in the Holy Spirit so that we no longer desire those things which once enslaved us.
So let us be honest with ourselves and look at the leprosy (sins) eating away at our souls, and in faith ask Christ to have mercy on us so that we can be renewed in our souls and freed from our sins. Let us continually be cleansed.
Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls and her dear husband. You can find out more about her here.