October 9: The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. The sermon for Sunday, October 9, 2022, was preached as a response to Luke 17.11-19 based on the manuscript below.

Some of the greatest and most overlooked
beauties and tools of the Book of Common Prayer
are the collects.
In the Prayers and Thanksgiving section of the Prayer Book –
a table of contents for which starts on page 210 –
we’re probably most familiar with….
for a birthday.
Also in this section
are prayers for guidance, a prayer for schools and colleges,
a prayer for rain, and a prayer for our enemies,
among others.
Each week has a designated collect
which we pray as the Collect of the Day on Sunday
and then is said at morning and evening prayer
all week long.
We’re in my favorite section of those,
which feel like “Back to School” collects for me
because I heard them when I got to seminary
and came back each fall
day in and day out
at morning and evening prayer.
On the 18th we prayed the collect for Proper 20:
“Grant us Lord,
not to be anxious about earthly things.”
The next week was
“O God, you declare your almighty power
chiefly in showing mercy and pity.”
Last week:
“Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear
than we to pray.”

One of my favorite collects
is one that is embedded in a service.
Three actually, that I can immediately think of.
It occurs on Good Friday,
at the Easter Vigil,
and is the collect of the day for all ordinations,
deacon, priest, and bishop.
It’s on page 528, among others.
In it the church asks,
“by the effectual working of your providence,
carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation;
let the whole world see and know
that things which were cast down
are being raised up,
and things which had grown old
are being made new,
and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made.”

Our passage from Luke today
is Jesus carrying out God’s plan of salvation.
We actually have two stories today:
the first is 10 people, lepers,
who are inherently separated from their communities.
There religious and ethnic differences
nine Jews and one Samaritan
are ignored.
They’re lepers and unclean.
Because leprosy could be lots of things
there were ways to be restored
if the illness or condition passed.
These ten lepers call out to Jesus for healing.
Rather than ask anything of them,
Jesus tells them to go to the priests
and demonstrate their cleanliness.
In obeying Jesus
they are healed.
That’s the first story,
the first vignette.

Then we have a foreigner,
a Samaritan
who notices that he’s been healed along the way.
He comes back to Jesus
thanking God in a loud voice.
Not being a Jew
he wouldn’t have needed to show himself
to a priest.
Coming back to Jesus,
he’s actually potentially
disobeying him.
If nothing else,
this Samaritan no-longer-leper
is delaying the restoration of relationships.

While our gut may be to wonder at the other nine,
they’ve followed Jesus’ directions.
They believed in him to ask for healing,
and they did what he directed.
In coming back to give thanks
the Samaritan man isn’t just healed though.
All ten of those who’ve asked for healing
have received it.
Another translation of Jesus’ final direction,
“Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well” is
“Get up and go on your way; your faith has saved you.”
Your faith has made you well,
your faith has saved you,
a full healing of mind, body, soul, spirit, and relationships,
through faith in Jesus and thanksgiving to God
has brought salvation to you.

I said a bit ago,
Our passage from Luke today
is Jesus carrying out God’s plan of salvation.
Your faith has saved you.
This happens today
in a way that reiterates what Luke has been saying
since the Magnificat in Luke 2.
Jesus hasn’t come to save those
who think they don’t need saving.
Jesus hasn’t come to save those
who already have what they want, need, and long for.
Jesus the itinerant rabbi,
whom Luke has made clear throughout the narrative
is a very observant Jew
heals unclean people
and heals an ethnic,
discriminated against minority.

Justo Gonzales says,
“One could even say
that there is a hint
that the reason why he was doubly grateful
for his healing
was that he had a double experience of exclusion,
and that he therefore could be doubly surprised
by Jesus’ act of healing—
not only a leper but a Samaritan leper!…
those who are most marginal and excluded
are also able to be most grateful
to this Lord who includes them.
Those whose experience of community and rejection
is most painful may well come to the gospel
with an added sense of joy.”[1]

We need to tread lightly
and not read this as Samaritans et al
taking the place of God’s chosen people.
We especially need to tread lightly
with antisemetic language and violence rising
with people who say dangerous things
being platformed.
Rather, Jesus is here to heal us all
and to save us:
mind, body, soul, spirit, and relationships.
He’s especially come to heal and restore
those who have been and are overlooked.
In our healing,
we’re to emulate this Samaritan
give thanks to God for what God has done for us
and then go on our way.
As we go we’re probably going to keep giving thanks
and telling people about how our lives have been changed.
This is how we steward the gift of salvation,
the restoration of mind,body, soul, spirit, and relationships
that we’ve come to know in Jesus.
This is how God through us
carries out the plan of salvation
let the whole world see and know
that things which were cast down like the Samaritan
are being raised up,
and things which had grown old
maybe like our church life after two years of pandemic
are being made new,
and that all things are being brought to their perfection
even if we can’t see it yet, though the Kingdom of God is at hand
by him through whom all things were made
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[1] Gonzalez, Justo L.. Luke: Belief, A Theological Commentary on the Bible (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible) . Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

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