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All of Us "Others"

he threw himself on his face at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him
II Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98:1-4; II Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19

Sermon Week Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 17:16

There is a French play that contains a passage that might go on haunting you all week long if you let it sink in. In the story, all the good people are at the gates of heaven on the day of judgment. The gates are about to be opened, and the people can hardly wait to get in. We imagine what this would mean to them: to come to an end and realize that heaven is here and I'm here, and I'm about to go into my reserved place. And then a rumor starts. Even at the gates of heaven, it seems, stories and spread like wildfire. Someone says, "He is going to forgive those others too!" For a moment, the people are dumbfounded, speechless. Then they look at each other, and start to gasp and sputter in disbelief, all trying to talk at the same time: "After all the trouble I went through! If only I had known this, things sure would have been different!" Some are so worked up by the realization that God is going to have compassion on those others that they begin to curse Him. And in that instant, they are damned. It all came down to compassion and the sad fact that the "good" people didn't offer it to those others.

Today, Jesus has spoken to us about offering it to those others. In today's Gospel Lesson, we have the story of ten lepers who Jesus cured. Nine were fellow-Jews. The tenth was one of those "others" -- a Samaritan, an outcast whom no "good" Jew would have anything to do with. But Jesus didn't see it that way. He didn't cure just nine. He healed the ten who cried out, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" You can almost hear a voice from the crowd gathered around the group saying, "Look. Do you see what I see? He is going to cure one of those others!"

The point is, Jesus' compassion cannot be contained by the artificial barriers we use to create categories of persons we call "those others." When we [...]

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