“Ten were cleansed, were they not?Where are the other nine” (Lk 17:17)?
Jesus makes this statement to the Samaritan who fell at his feet praising God and thanking him for his healing. The other nine received the same physical healing. Some saw this man turn back and go to Jesus, yet each one of them continued on their way to see the priests as Jesus had directed them. The purpose of this was so that they could be pronounced clean, and so re-enter the life of communal worship and living among their people. I am sure they were ecstatic to do so.
Jesus healed all ten of their leprosy without even saying a word of healing, yet, the issue of salvation is for each individual to make. I am sure each of the ten received the same invitation. There were those who were probably so excited about the healing that they did not hear it, others may have but dismissed it, and a few, who heard it stronger, as did the Samaritan, could not quiet whatever mind noise that stopped them from doing something as simple as changing their course and coming back to say thank you.
The Samaritan that comes to Jesus in gratitude experienced something deeper than his physical healing. He recognized God’s activity in his life, an opening to a relationship and communion with him. Jesus acknowledged this step of faith, of following this invitation from within and resisting any mind noise that may have tried to dissuade him when he said, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you” (Luke 17:19).
In answering the invitation that welled up from within, this man received more than just physical healing that day, he received salvation. This means not just that his body was restored and made whole again, but that the separation from his relationship with God had been reconciled.
God invites us in so many small ways in the silence of our hearts to be more engaged in a relationship with him, in our own lives, and the lives of others. We too can crowd out the invitation by keeping ourselves busy, distracted, and/or diverted. We can hear the whisper but discount it outright for many selfish reasons, we can also believe the cacophony of mind noises that is fed by our fears, prejudgments, or apprehensions. Yet, we can also be like the Samaritan. We can hear and experience the invitation of God and act on his leading and so be saved.
Painting: “Jesus With the One Leper Who Returned to Give Thanks” by William Brassey Hole