God's healing power
Dear Friends in Christ,
Our Gospel reading this Sunday from the seventeenth chapter of Luke brings to mind another instance of Jesus healing a leper. The story shows up in various forms in the first chapter of Mark, the fifth chapter of Luke, and the eighth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. In Matthew’s rendering, Jesus tells the man who was just healed: “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” The fourteenth chapter of Leviticus details the logistics of the process by which a person who has been healed of their disease is also made “clean”—both spiritually and literally. The cleansing is accomplished over the course of weeks, not only by going to the Temple in Jerusalem with particular offerings to atone for sin, but also through a ritualized cleansing of the body or home where the disease made an appearance. In this respect, the priests in ancient Israel also functioned as “public health officials” of sorts, providing ancient certification process by which a previously ill individual could be deemed “safe,” and thus return to communal life.
It strikes me this week that the Samaritan who was healed may not have been entirely welcome to join in the cleansing process in the Second Temple in Jerusalem, given the divisions between Judeans and Samaritans during Jesus’ day. In a way, the gratitude of the Samaritan in our Gospel reading this Sunday offered a spiritual pathway, for those who were healed to also find themselves spiritually cleansed. Atonement and cleansing can happen through a return to Christ, responding in gratitude to the healing kindness of God.
I hope and pray that you and your house may know the grace of both God’s healing power and God’s cleansing and atoning power in Christ this month—