Today’s gospel brings us the account of the cleansing of the ten lepers. We are taught just how great a sin ingratitude can be, but to be thankful is a profound virtue.
These lepers lived with the fear of death by their side at any moment. For them, life seemed hopeless. They were neglected by their families and relatives. And day by day they saw themselves withering away.
The Lord sensed their misery and faith, and as soon as they called to Him and said: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13), He immediately cleansed them from their illness.
However, amongst the ten who were cleansed, only one was keen enough to return to the Lord and give thanks and glorify Him, for the miracle that just took place amongst them (Lk 17:15).
This one keen person happened to also be a foreigner to the Jewish community since he was a Samaritan, whilst the others were Jews, of the same race as Jesus. Even though he was a Samaritan, and despised by the Jews, he set the example of the highest spiritual virtue, he showed gratitude for his healing, a sign of his humble ongoing faith or faithfulness; this fact is expressed in Jesus’ pronouncement when He said to the Samaritan: “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well” (Lk 17:19), and we remind ourselves of the power of faith or ‘belief’, when we read the Οἶκος of the day during Matins.
Τὸν Σταυρὸν καὶ τὴν Ταφήν σου
Ζωοδότα, ἀνυμνοῦμεν οἱ πιστοὶ καὶ προ‐
σκυνοῦμεν· ὅτι τὸν Ἅδην ἔδησας ἀθάνα‐
τε, ὡς Θεὸς παντοδύναμος, καὶ νεκροὺς
συνανέστησας, καὶ πύλας τοῦ Ἅδου
συνέτριψας, καὶ κράτος τοῦ θανάτου κα‐
θεῖλες ὡς Θεός. Διὸ οἱ γηγενεῖς δοξολο‐
γοῦμέν σε πόθῳ τὸν ἀναστάντα, καὶ
καθελόντα ἐχθροῦ τὸ κράτος τοῦ πανώ‐
λους, καὶ πάντας ἀναστήσαντα τοὺς ἐπὶ
σοὶ πιστεύσαντας, καὶ κόσμον λυτρωσά‐
μενον ἐκ τῶν βελῶν τοῦ ὄφεως, καὶ ὡς
μόνον δυνατόν, ἐκ τῆς πλάνης τοῦ
ἐχθροῦ λυτρωσάμενον ἡμᾶς· ὅθεν ἀνυ‐
μνοῦμεν εὐσεβῶς τὴν Ἀνάστασίν σου,
δι᾿ ἧς ἔσωσας ἡμᾶς, ὡς Θεὸς τοῦ παντός.
Your cross and tomb, O Life‐giver, we
believers worship and sing praise, for
Hell, O You who live forever, as almighty
God You have belayed. The gates of Hell
You tore to shreds, and as God, the might
of death have razed. So, avidly we
earthborn praise in doxology the One now
raised, who destroyed the deadly power of
our foe. You have resurrected everyone—
all those who believe in You; You have
rescued the world from the serpent’s
fangs, and have snatched us from allure to
the hostile one—as alone You had ability
to do. Hence we piously sing the praises of
Your rising, by which You saved us, as the
God of all things.
However, God’s blessing was all too easily taken for granted or forgotten by the nine Jewish lepers who were also healed by Jesus Christ. They had faith, but they were not faithful, their faith was not dynamic or in progress. Whilst they accepted the action that had happened to them they without realising it or not, arrogantly abandoned their Creator, they did not acknowledge His action towards them. Although they saw that the condition of their health had been restored, they avoided to show one of their outcomes of faith, to express their gratitude to the One who is the resurrection and the life. This gospel pericope shows clearly that of all the children of Israel only a remnant would be true to God and be saved, although the hope is that all are saved. Only those who chose to follow God and His son, when Israel as a nation officially rejected Him (symbolising the unfaithful), retained the right to be called God’s people (Rom 9:26-27).
The Samaritan, before he re-entered into society, approached the One who had cleansed him. His heart was filled with humble gratitude and praise for God.
His gratefulness was evident and abundant, as he voiced his appreciation for the great gift Christ had given him, “…and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks…” (Lk:1716).
So, ten lepers had been in great need, but for nine, their attitude of faith had evaporated as soon as their need was restored. Their faith had saved them but it faded and bore no expected fruit, such as a spiritual sacrifice and acknowledgement of the presence of God, a Thank You!
Don’t we portray these nine lepers at certain times of our life?
Ingratitude in us, is indicated when we say we believe in Christ but we do not give thanks to Him the way we should. In our pain, in our hardships we seek refuge in the Lord. But in our joyful moments we forget that we desired His help and guidance. We give so much attention to the people around us in our good moments that we easily forget to glorify God. It is strange, but we are not used to being attentive to everything that happens within us. We forget about it. The impressions of exterior, material life impose themselves on us so strongly that we forget spiritual life.
In our personal and communal life, the Lord has not only saved us from the dangers of physical illnesses and certain accidents which have brought us face to face with death and confusion; but above all, His grace and our faith towards Him, has saved us so many times from certain spiritual death, from non-existence!
But where is our appreciation to God?
Do we really give thanks to Him?
Do we show our gratitude towards Him?
What kind of human beings have we become?
We must realise that we have a simple obligation, to express gratitude towards God. For this is what it means to have spiritual life! We have to look towards the personal God; that is, to set our sights upward so as to give our body (which is inclined to inertia) an eternal momentum. This duty is underlined by St Paul in Ephesians when he said we should live: “… giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:20). Hence, our spiritual progress depends first and foremost on our own attitude.
The Samaritan’s behaviour gives us a very good and indeed dynamic example of the right kind of relationship we must have with the Lord, a sincere, ongoing, and faithful connection with our Lord. To preserve His creative grace of the Holy Spirit, we must abstain from every thought which is not pleasing to God. Therefore we must abstain from ingratitude. We see in this gospel, Jesus was not pleased by the nine whom when they were healed, thoughtlessly forgot to thank Him, so He said: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? “Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Lk 17:17-18).
Here we learn that we should never come before God as satisfied or complacent people, thinking that we have finished our task on the basis of what good things we have done, or what wrong things we are not doing. St Isaac the Syrian said: “For so long as a man lives there are many changes in his life, but God looks to the consummation and not to what lies in between”. Christ demands not the doing of the commandments, but the soul’s amendment. It was for this reason that He gave His commandments; and the soul’s amendment is faith in Jesus Christ, to be deemed worthy of the hope that is imperishable, in Christ. In other words, by abiding in Christ’s commandment, we organically become like Him, we are transformed.
Ἀντίφωνον Αʹ. Ἦχος πλ. βʹ.
Δόξα. Καὶ νῦν.
Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι, πανσωστικὴ
αἰτία· εἴ τινι τούτων κατ᾿ ἀξίαν
πνεύσει, τάχει ἐξαίρει τῶν τῆς γῆς,
πτεροῖ, αὔξει, τάττει ἄνω.
Antiphon I. Mode pl. 2.
Glory. Both now.
In the Holy Spirit is the cause of
universal salvation. When He blows on
someone as befits His nature, He quickly
uplifts him from the mundane, gives
him wings, augments him, ranges him
The only thing which attracts an amended soul, a Christian, is Christ, the person of Christ. Therefore we must live with Christ as the measure of everything, divine and human. In Christ, we have God our Creator. In Christ, we have the example, the revelation of God’s plan for humanity. The love of Christ must fill our hearts, always. One cannot abide in God by intellectual reflection about Him. God reveals Himself in us by His action. As Christians, we live Christ as our own life, not as someone we know from outside.
Therefore, in this amended spirit, with the confidence in Christ, we are to express gratitude not only to God, but to our friends and family as well. We shouldn’t forget the good things that others do for us, because this is to live according to the commandment of Christ, ‘to love our neighbour as ourselves’. This commandment has cosmic dimensions. Christ loves us like He loves Himself, and for this reason He offers us His eternal life. We must have the same consciousness as Christ, who bears in Himself the whole world, without excluding a single person. This is what makes for the universality of a human being. If we are to acquire this consciousness, we will pray for all of humanity and creation as for ourselves.
Therefore dear friends if we want to follow in the shadow of our Lord and the saints of the church we must show gratitude to God, even in the time of tribulation and sicknesses. St Isaac the Syrian said: “If you desire virtue, surrender yourself up to every kind of suffering, for afflictions give birth to humility”.
There is no worst thing, or as one would say, a heavy sin (spiritual disorientation) as ingratitude!
Each one of us, if we really love God and we accept what God has done for us, should thank Him and we should ask for His mercy, for the salvation of our soul.
Therefore it is also up to us, our free will, we have the power. Rather than criticising, rather than cursing in the hours of our tribulation, we should show some spiritual vigour and recite those famous words which St John Chrysostom once said: ‘glory to God for all that has happened’. For the mind cannot abide in humility without buffetings; and without humility neither can it preserve with limpid purity in prayer, to God.
Δόξα. Ἦχος πλ. αʹ.
Τὸ Θʹ Ἑωθινὸν Δοξαστικόν.
Ὡς ἐπʹ ἐσχάτων τῶν χρόνων,
οὔσης ὀψίας Σαββάτων, ἐφίστασαι
τοῖς φίλοις, Χριστέ, καὶ θαύματι
θαῦμα βεβαιοῖς τῇ κεκλεισμένῃ
εἰσόδῳ τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν σου
ἀνάστασιν. Ἀλλʹ ἔπλησας χαρᾶς
τοὺς μαθητάς, καὶ Πνεύματος ἁγίου
μετέδωκας αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἐξουσίαν
ἔνειμας ἀφέσεως ἁμαρτιῶν· καὶ τὸν
Θωμᾶν οὐ κατέλιπες τῷ τῆς
ἀπιστίας καταβαπτίζεσθαι κλύδωνι.
Διὸ παράσχου καὶ ἡμῖν γνῶσιν
ἀληθῆ καὶ ἄφεσιν πταισμάτων,
Glory. Mode pl. 1d.
The 9th Eothinòn Doxasticon.
Now in these last times, at evening
on the first day of the week, O Christ,
You came and stood among Your
friends; and by the miracle of Your
entry through the doors that were
locked, You verified the miracle of
Your resurrection from the dead. You
filled the Disciples with joy, and imparted
to them the Holy Spirit; and
You gave them all authority to forgive
sins. Moreover You did not leave
Thomas to drown beneath the waves of
disbelief. Therefore grant true knowledge
also to us, and forgiveness of
offenses, O compassionate Lord.
 Homily Fifty Seven.