Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Different Twist on "The Other Nine"

Something struck me the other day when the Gospel reading at Mass was the healing of the ten lepers. I know this gospel is coming up again (in this country at least) when we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday.

The ten are healed, one comes back and gives thanks to Jesus for his healing. And Jesus says "Where are the other nine?"

I think in every homily I've heard, the point has been that there were nine ingrates and one who had the decency to thank Jesus. And Jesus' comment to the thankful man seems a little huffy that nine are so impolite.

Maybe I just really like being a contrarian. Maybe I cannot stand to hear the same homily over and over again. Maybe there is something to the thoughts that went through my head when I heard it this time. But how is struck me is that this one man left the company of the others, and Jesus is causing that one to think: are you just going to leave them? Sure, you're grateful. But you've lived your lives together, ostracized together, suffering together. Are you just going to check out and leave them behind, now? Where are they? You didn't think to ask them to come with you? They are obviously not here giving thanks, but you are. Now that you have been with me, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to go off, glad to leave your past behind, including your past associates? Or are you going to go back to them and tell them about our little chat here -- about why you came, and what about what I reminded you of?

You come to me to give thanks, and that's great. But don't forget about them. Tell them I asked about them. Maybe they need you now more than ever.

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