By Protopresbyter Dr. Georgios Lekkas is a priest of the Holy Metropolis of Belgium
And the ten lepers were healed, but only one of them was saved.
Today’s gospel passage speaks of different degrees of faith. There is the faith that relieves us in a particular difficulty, but there is also the faith that saves us.
And the ten lepers had the faith to cry out with one mouth: “Lord, have mercy on us”. And the ten lepers had the faith to do as Christ told them, to go and show themselves to the priests and thus to recover their physical health on the way.
But only one had the faith to turn back and give thanks to God at the feet of His Son. This was a Samaritan and not a Jew, thus indirectly prophesying that Christ would be glorified more among the Gentiles than in the place of his birth.
It was the Samaritan’s faith that made him act like a madman and cry out aloud in praise of God and to give Him thanks at the feet of His Son.
It was the Samaritan’s faith that made him go beyond the limits of social expectations and act as if there was no one in this world but him and God.
There is faith that makes us ask for divine mercy, there is a higher faith that makes us praise God and thank Him, there is a still higher faith that makes us love Him with all the strength of our hearts and there is an even higher faith – today’s gospel does not speak of this – which makes us wish to suffer for God. This is the faith of the Holy Martyrs.
In a state of thanksgiving and praise the soul enters into a relationship with God superior to that which it enters into by seeking divine mercy. For the one who asks for God’s mercy is usually still dominated by some personal need, while the one who gives thanks has already discovered the way of life of the Holy Angels who live to glorify the Lord.
And the ten lepers were healed, but only one was saved because only he had learned through his experience the reason for which the Holy Angels and he himself were made.
The joy one receives when sincerely thanking and glorifying God can be so great that one will wish to thank and glorify God even in the midst of calamity.
In our life, joy and pain alternate, and in fact, spiritual joy usually precedes and is followed by a corresponding pain. In fact, the greater the spiritual joy, the greater usually is the pain that follows it. Saint Silouan wrote that the pain of the Virgin Mary at the Crucifixion of her Son is inconceivable to us, because the love she had for her Son in the Holy Spirit is inconceivable to us.
The love of one who truly believes in God is always greater than his pain, and the greater his pain, the greater is the love granted him by the Holy Spirit. The true believer thus learns to love even his pain, as he realizes that pain is the means to love God and our brothers and sisters – humanity as a whole – all the more.
The ingratitude of the nine Jewish lepers is a manifestation of their imperfect faith. Let the faith of the Samaritan leper become our own, however, so that we thank God unceasingly for His favours, even in the midst of our calamities.