Gospel Reflections (Luke 17:11-19)

We see why the story of the cure of Naaman the leper has been chosen as our first reading today: in the Gospel reading we find another cure of a foreigner, and not an ordinary foreigner, but a hated foreigner. There was a cordial hatred between Jews and Samaritans: for the Jews, the Samaritans were a wretched hybrid race, who accepted only part of the Jewish Bible, and had their own ideas about the coming Messiah. Yet Luke has already recounted the story of the Good Samaritan, who succours the wounded traveller who had been neglected by Jewish priest and Levite. Now only a Samaritan comes back to thank Jesus for the cure from leprosy. Samaritans are the foreigners geographically nearest to Jesus, but hated by the Jews. If the Samaritans can set an example to the Jews, so can many other foreigners. In his initial proclamation Jesus promises salvation to the gentiles, and Luke misses no opportunity to show us gentiles ripe for salvation: the centurion of Capernaum who built the synagogue and whose son is cured, the guests for the banquet called in from highways and byways. Luke is preparing for his second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, where the Good News will spread to the ends of the earth, even to Rome itself. Christians believe that no race is superior to another. Why?


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