Yesterday’s Gospel reading told the story of ten lepers who called upon Jesus for a healing. All were healed, but only one realized he was truly healed and returned to give thanks to God. While the other nine were healed in body, the tenth was healed also in heart, mind and soul.
Leprosy was a terrible scourge, the AIDS of its time. Besides the physical toll it took, it also ravaged the inner life like no other. Illnesses create emotional wounds because of the isolation and fear they cause. Despite the love and sympathy of family and friends, you still ultimately have to bear your illness alone. But an illness that is not ‘acceptable’ creates deeper wounds because of the shunning one receives as a result. Lepers were banished from all contact with family, friends and society. Because of the ease in which the disease was transmitted, and the physical ugliness that it created, people ran in horror from you if you were a leper. Who can forget those haunting scenes from the movie “Ben Hur,” where we find Ben Hur’s mother and sister in the leper colony, stripped of all hope. AIDS victims today often face the same treatment.
So for Jesus to even acknowledge lepers was radical. In many cases, He even touched them.
In the case of the ten, He surely meant to heal each totally of his wounds: heart, mind, body and soul. The body obviously was the easiest part to heal. The healing of the inner self requires a much deeper faith.
Perhaps this is why the tenth leper was able to come back and thank Jesus when the other nine could not. His faith was deep enough to accept a total healing.
That kind of faith requires an openness found in a childlike heart that has not been hardened by bitterness and pain, the kind of heart Jesus says we must have to find life in Him. When one has a heart like that, one sees plainly the blessings, and the healing, that come from the Lord.
I find that the more I am clinging to Jesus, moment to moment, as a child would cling to a parent, the more I can see Him, even down to the smallest blessing or the smallest sin that I commit. This is what it takes to ‘see’ a healing. It’s all too easy to forget about Jesus as He is not physically in plain view. But I have His Word to read, His Spirit living within me and His people around me, especially in His Church, and it’s up to me to claim these things each and every day.