Watching for the morning of October 13
The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 23 / Lectionary 28
Band-Aids exercise a magical power for small children. There is a kind of terror that seems to overtake them at the sight of blood – as though the life force were leaking from their body. The same seems to have been true of skin diseases in ancient Israel; several chapters in Leviticus discuss such diseases, their diagnosis, and their consequences in great detail. We still share something of these ideas, or we wouldn’t spend however many billions of dollars on skin care lotions and creams. We routinely say people look well or ill based on their skin condition. And a certain pallor always strikes us with a deathly fear.
The laws in Leviticus governed blotches and discoloration on walls and fabrics, too, even as we react to the site of mold. This is not about contagion and disease prevention; it is about that sense of the unclean. In Israel, such a disease excluded you from family and community. You become an untouchable. It hints that you are under a curse, that God is holding your sins against you.
Ten such people cry out to Jesus for mercy in Sunday’s gospel. What happens is not a medical miracle; what happens is a restoration of life. Their bodies are made whole; their spirits are made whole; their lives are made whole. They are restored to their life in their community.
But only the one Samaritan seems to understand that they have not met a mendicant healer; they have been met by the one authorized to dispense the gifts of the Lord and Giver of Life.
The Prayer for October 13, 2013
God our healer and redeemer,
stretch forth your hand,
touch us with your spirit,
that cleansed and made whole
we may live lives of gratefulness and praise.
The Texts for October 13, 2013
First Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram… suffered from leprosy.” – The commander of Israel’s hostile neighbor is told by a captured Israelite maid that there is a prophet in Israel who can heal him.
Psalmody: Psalm 111
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.” – An acrostic hymn singing the praise of God from Aleph to Tau (A to Z).
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 2:8-15
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David–that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.” – Written by Paul (or, as some scholars think, in Paul’s name) from prison to his protégé Timothy, the author speaks to the next generation of leadership urging faithfulness to the teaching they have received.
Gospel: Luke 17:11-19
“Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?’” –As Jesus approaches a village he is met by ten people suffering from a dreaded skin affliction that excludes them from their families and community. They are sent on their way healed, but only the Samaritan in the group returns to acknowledge Jesus and give thanks to God.