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Speaking to the Soul: Turning Back

Speaking to the Soul: Turning Back

Week of Proper 28, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) // 119:121-144 (evening)

Malachi 1:1, 6-14

James 3:13-4:12

Luke 17:11-19

Nine out of ten people in today’s gospel think they’re doing the right thing. All ten of the people were lepers who kept their appropriate distance from Jesus, called him Master, and asked for his mercy. And when Jesus told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” they followed his orders, set out to show themselves to the priests, and were made clean. When they were made clean, nine out of ten of them kept going. They must have thought to themselves, “Surely our cleanness is proof that by following Jesus’s orders we’re doing the right thing.”

But neither their cleanness nor their obedience was proof that these nine lepers were on the right track. One of the ten, a Samaritan, was the only one to get it right. Instead of running ahead, this one turned back, fell at the feet of Jesus, and thanked him. Then Jesus told him, “Get up and go on your way.”

Jesus praises the one leper with the thankful heart more than the nine lepers with obedient wills. When Jesus tells this one leper to “go on your way,” it’s not clear where the leper will go. Will he resume his sprint to show himself to the priests? Will he return to his Samaritan home? Or will he forge a different path? In any case, the faith journey that begins with thankfulness for Christ’s mercy is more open-ended than the course set by following commands. If we include a return trip to Jesus for thanksgiving in the midst of our day, our path might be all the more faithful.

Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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