Luke 17:11-19 (NRSV)
Verse 11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. Verse 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, Verse 13they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" Verse 14When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Verse 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. Verse 16He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Verse 17Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Verse 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Verse 19Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
Martin Bell rewrites today’s gospel reading in a story called “Where are The Nine?” As Bell tells it, ten lepers were cleansed but all were affected in different ways. Yes, one returned to give Jesus thanks. But as for the nine? One hid in fear. One was offended by this example of such cheap grace. One couldn’t handle his new identity. One was so joyful he forgot to give thanks. One ran straight home to see her family. One, tired of groveling, refused to say “Thank you!” ever again. One thought that Jesus had nothing at all to do with his healing. One believed that the Kingdom of God was at hand and ran to tell everyone the good news. One simply smiled mysteriously and disappeared from sight.
Bell’s take? Even as he asked, “Where are the nine?”, Jesus knew full well where they were. “He knew all along.” Then, like the last of the nine, Jesus smiled mysteriously and disappeared from sight. What do you make of that?
Dear Jesus, thank you for always knowing who and where we are. Amen.