In the 17th chapter of Luke there is an interesting story. Let’s just read what it says: On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
First of all, we can understand that leprosy is highly contagious and physical distancing was not only expected to be voluntarily practiced, it was enforced. The lepers would have been together because despite any differences in culture, religion or economics before leprosy—now they are in this together. Who knows how they knew Jesus was coming but they came out as a group. Neither Jews nor Samaritans readily believed Jesus was the Messiah but somehow, they were open to healing. Sometimes we are just in that expectant place no matter what our prior training has been. They ask for mercy and Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests. They turn and go, not healed but moving in the direction they were guided to—miraculously the healing or cleansing unfolds! We walk by faith, not by sight!
Only one leper begins praising God loudly, turning back to thank Jesus and bow down in adoration. Now Jews and Samaritans did not like each other and although from the same origins, they did not respect each other’s path very much. But Samaritans have a way of showing up in the gospel of Luke as heroes. It’s sort of the counter-culture way of teaching—shocking people with stories that put people in roles that are the opposite of expectations. Most people would not stop for lepers, much less engage them. They would put as much distance as possible between them. Not Jesus. He heals them. And is it the Jewish lepers who show up grateful and acknowledging the Source of all healing is God? Nope. It was a Samaritan—which Jesus brings to the forefront of the story to make the point Luke likes to make: that Christianity is not just for Jews. It is for gentiles and Samaritans and everyone! And what was the faith that made the leper well? Was it being a Samaritan or was it just his personal relationship with God—who he immediately began praising?
Jesus doesn’t really advocate being Christian or Jew or Samaritan. He advocates love. Love God, love your neighbor, love yourself.
So now that you know the story, what do I mean by “Be the tenth leper?”
I guess we could throw physical distancing in there—keep your distance as long as needed to keep everyone healthy!
Second, acknowledge God as the Source of all healing and prosperity and wisdom. That acknowledgment is Gratitude. A more evangelical phrase is “Give God the glory”. The praise went first to God before the leper was grateful for Jesus as the perceived manifest channel of healing. Metaphysically we could say Spirit heals and provides whatever we need to access Spirit. Maybe it is a story and maybe it is a friend and maybe it is a healthcare provider. Faith in God as Source made him well, not the channel for the healing to unfold.
Third, and this is a subtle message in the story—exceed expectations and labels. Hebrew and Christian listeners to the story of Luke in ancient times would not have expected much from the Samaritan. Today the media is guilty of labeling and then presenting an example of excellence as a surprise or exception. The blind, autistic singer who wins America’s Got Talent is the exception. Why? Because we label the singer and then lower our expectations of his gifts and ability to use them. Stop labeling others. Do NOT believe you are bound by any labels of lowered expectations. Once you begin tapping into your divine power, you will exceed expectations! Get used to it and set it as your own standard. If you miss your own mark, breathe and know it is a temporary condition, a lesson, and get ready to begin again, trusting God as your Source.
Be the tenth leper! Aligned in gratitude with God as your Source, be your best self!