To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 6:1-11; Lk 17:11-19
The miracle of the healing of ten lepers is found only in the Gospel of Luke. The mention of Samaria at the beginning of this miracle story prepares us for the Samaritan who gave thanks at the end.
Lepers were not allowed to live within the city limits and had to live outside (Numbers 5:2-3). They also had to cry out that they were unclean when anyone approached them (Leviticus 13:45-46). This is why Luke has the lepers in this story stand at a distance (17:12) and call out in unison addressing Jesus as Master, which only disciples do in the Gospel of Luke. Their cry for mercy would ordinarily have been a cry for alms, but in this case, it seems to be for much more. When Jesus sees them, he issues a command that they go and show themselves to the priests and as they obeyed this command, they were made clean.
It is interesting to note that the healing here takes place after they obey Jesus’ command. One of the ten on realising that he was healed began to praise God and his action of falling prostrate at Jesus’ feet is an indication that he recognised God as acting in and through Jesus. Though ten were made clean, only one of them and that too a Samaritan who was despised by the Jews and regarded as an outcast and foreigner has returned to thank God. The faith of the man here is shown not before but after his healing. This results in the man receiving not just healing, but salvation.
Gratitude does not come naturally to many of us. Before the favour can be done for us, we are willing to do anything for the person who can do us that favour. However, often once the favour has been done, we forget to thank. While the person concerned might not expect any thanks from us, it is our responsibility to acknowledge our gratitude by our thanks.