A foreign leper is cleansed and in thanksgiving returns to
offer homage to the God of Israel. We hear this same story
in both the First Reading and Gospel today.
There were many lepers in Israel in Elisha's time, but only
Naaman the Syrian trusted in God's Word and was cleansed (see
Luke 5:12-14). Today's Gospel likewise implies that most of
the ten lepers healed by Jesus were Israelites-but only a
foreigner, the Samaritan, returned.
In a dramatic way, we're being shown today how faith has been
made the way to salvation, the road by which all nations will
join themselves to the Lord, becoming His servants, gathered
with the Israelites into one chosen people of God, the Church
(see Isaiah 56:3-8).
Today's Psalm also looks forward to the day when all peoples
will see what Naaman sees-that there is no God in all the
earth except the God of Israel.
We see this day arriving in today's Gospel. The Samaritan
leper is the only person in the New Testament who personally
thanks Jesus. The Greek word used to describe his "giving
thanks" is the word we translate as "Eucharist."
And these lepers today reveal to us the inner dimensions of
the Eucharist and sacramental life.
We, too have been healed by our faith in Jesus. As Naaman's
flesh is made again like that of a little child, our souls
have been cleansed of sin in the waters of Baptism. We experience
this cleansing again and again in the Sacrament of Penance-as
we repent our sins, beg and receive mercy from our Master,
We return to glorify God in each Mass, to offer ourselves
in sacrifice-falling on our knees before our Lord, giving
thanks for our salvation.
In this Eucharist, we remember "Jesus Christ, raised
from the dead, a descendant of David," Israel's covenant
king. And we pray, as Paul does in today's Epistle, to persevere
in this faith-that we too may live and reign with Him in eternal