Sunday 09 October 2022

Bible Book:

Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ (vs 12-13)

Luke 17:11-19 Sunday 9 October 2022

Psalm 111


The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all very aware of social distancing – the need to create space between ourselves and others in order to limit the likelihood of infection. The lepers whom Jesus encountered in today’s reading probably lived together in a colony. So, they were not completely socially isolated. They had one another. But they were not able to mix with those who did not have leprosy. In addition to being infectious, they were also seen as unclean. One of them also had the additional stigma of being a Samaritan.

I am often curious to know how the people in the gospels who approach Jesus for help and healing had heard about him. Who had told these lepers about Jesus? I am also interested that they approach Jesus together and pray in one voice. Whatever they had heard about Jesus had clearly convinced them all. They had become a community of faith.

The words they use (verse 13) are very similar to what has become known as the Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox tradition: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. These words are repeated over and over again, until they become part of the breathing rhythm of the person praying. I can imagine the ten lepers also shouting out these words repeatedly, as an expression of both fervent faith and desperate need. Unlike the Jesus prayer, though, their prayer is a collective one: Have mercy on us – not have mercy on me!

On their way to show themselves to the priest, however, their community is broken. One of them, realising that he has been healed, turns back to express his profound gratitude to Jesus. Did he then go and catch up with the others? Or did they all go their separate ways, returning to the families and communities from which they had originally come?

Jesus, as ever, is concerned about the ones who are missing: “Where are the other nine?” he asks (verse 17).   

To Ponder:

  • What words express the collective prayer of your community?
  • What do you personally want to thank God for today?
  • You might like to repeat the Jesus Prayer to yourself during the day.

PrayerToday is Homeless Sunday and we pray for all those who long for a home. May you stay at their side, Lord, and keep them safe. Amen.

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