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Proper 23C, Tr 2 (19 Trinity,
2 Kings 5.1-3, 7-15b: Naaman the Syrian and Elisha.
Ps 111: Great are the deeds of the Lord.
2 Tim 2.8-15: avoid wrangling over words.
Luke 17:11-19: healing of Samaritan leper(s) (982)
Faithful Lord, whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end: grant us the grace to trust you and to
receive the gifts of your love, new every morning, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Luke says we are to give thanks, rejoice at others' good fortune, and reach out to those unlike us.)
As followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we learn about him from the writings
of the New Testament. It is unlikely
that any of the authors of the writings knew Jesus personally.
They were all drawing upon the knowledge of what Jesus had said and done
that had been handed down by word of mouth from those who knew him, the original
band of disciples. So when any of
our writers began, he would be drawing on the traditions that he had received.
But what he had to draw on would probably vary a bit from one community to
another. And also he might see that
certain parts of the tradition would have a special significance for his own
understanding of Jesus and with regard to the needs of the community he was
Now we are nearing the end of Year C of the RCL in which we have focused
on the Gospel according to Luke. We
might pause for a moment to highlight three of the particular concerns that Luke
has emphasized in the Gospel, not to mention the Book of Acts.
One is the outreach to foreigners, with special mention of Samaritans as
in today’s gospel. A second one is
on rejoicing at the good fortune of others, and a third is on giving thanks - again,
as in today’s gospel.
Both Matthew and Luke have the parable of the lost sheep.
When Matthew tells the story, the shepherd himself rejoices over having
found his lost sheep, but Luke tells the story with a difference.
In Luke’s setting the scribes and Pharisees are grumbling about the
kind of company with whom Jesus consorts. In
this setting Jesus then tells three parables, the first being the shepherd and
his lost sheep. When he finds the
sheep he does not rejoice by himself as in Matthew’s telling of the story.
Instead he calls in all his neighours to rejoice with him.
Luke then adds the story of the woman who loses a coin, and she, in turn,
calls all her neighbours to join her in rejoicing when she has found it.
Finally he then tells what we call the story of the prodigal son, with
the invitation to the dutiful son to join everyone else in rejoicing at the
other son’s return. We can
reasonably turn this slightly around, so to speak, and say that in Luke there
would be no room for what the Germans call Schadenfreude, that is glee at
the discomfiture of others.
In today’s gospel we have encountered a Samaritan.
Who were the Samaritans? In
short, they were roughly to the Jews as the Shia Muslims are to the Sunni.
The Samaritans held only to the Five Books of Moses, that is, Genesis
through Deuteronomy, and they claimed that
Apart from the story in John about Jesus and the Samaritan woman by the
well, the only stories about Samaritans are the two that are to be found in
Luke. In each of them the despised Samaritans are shown in a better light that
the Jews. We have heard one of them
this morning in which it is only the cured Samaritan leper who returns to give
thanks. The other is Jesus’ story
told to the Jewish lawyer who wants to know who is the neighbour whom he must
love. Jesus then tells what we call
the story of the good Samaritan, after which the lawyer is forced to admit that
the Samaritan is the one who had been neighbourly.
And Luke has more to say about foreigners.
We have heard this morning the story in the Second Book of Kings about
Naaman the Syrian. It is Luke who picks this up in what we might call Jesus’
mission statement when he visits the synagogue in
If we are following Jesus, then these are three of the things that Luke
would have us remember and ponder.
How ready are we to give thanks? Do
we sometimes take too much for granted, almost as if it were ours by right?
How ready are to rejoice with others at their good fortune, perhaps
especially those people whom we do not find it easy to like?
How ready are we to reach out to others who are not like us?
I think that these are three simple questions that Luke has posed for us
and would like us to remember and consider more than once in our lifetime
journey with Jesus.