Jeff Tan’s thoughts on today’s Gospel at One Bread, One Body prompted me to make a brief comment on his post.
He didn’t go much into the title of his post “Your faith has saved you”, but it was particularly that phrase upon which I reflected during the gospel reading today (with the help of the Universalis App which gives the Greek text as well).
The line could well have been translated “Your faith has healed you”. And here is the odd thing – all ten were healed. In what sense then, was this one Samaritan healed/saved that the other nine were not? Did Jesus even mean to suggest this?
As I am preparing for my new Anima Education Monday Night course “The Challenge of Atheism”, I have been reflecting on the way that many people in the world experience deliverance (salvation/healing) from bondage to evil. Some have the faith to acknowledge that this is a gift from God, and respond with gratitude, but many don’t. In fact, one of the atheist charges against religion is simply that religion is a misplaced sense of gratitude. Something good happens to us, and we don’t know who to thank, so we create the Spaghetti Monster in the Sky to be the object of our gratification (this very position is expressed by Jane Caro in a book I am currently reading “For God’s Sake: An Atheist, A Jew, A Christian And A Muslim Debate Religion“). That seems a bit twisted to me. When the lepers presented themselves as “cleansed” to the priests at the temple, did the priests think that they had invented Jesus as an object of their gratification?
But (in the terms of the second reading for today) even if we are faithless, God is still faithful! Even if we are thankless, God still acts graciously towards all his creation.
Something to think about.
(By the way, lately, I have come to regard that 2 Timothy 2:11-13 passage as key to a great deal in the Scriptures about faith and the faithfulness of God. I love the way it says that God will always be faithful because “he cannot deny himself” – not “disown” as the JB lectionary has it – because he has sworn his promises on his own name!)