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Gospel for Sunday, October 9: Luke 17: 11-19


11On his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee. 12Entering a village, ten lepers met him who, stopping at a distance, 13they raised their voices, saying: «Jesus master, have mercy on us!». 14As soon as he saw them, Jesus said: “Go and present yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were healed. 15One of them, seeing himself healed, went back praising God in a loud voice; 16and threw himself at Jesus feet to thank him. He was a Samaritan. 17But Jesus observed: “Have not all ten been healed? And where are the other nine? 18Has anyone been found to return to give glory to God, other than this foreigner?”. And he said to him: 19“Get up and go; your faith has saved you!”

Luke 17: 11-19

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

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The parable of the miraculous healing of the ten lepers (Lk 17,11-19), in which only one returns to thank Jesus, has always been read as an invitation to be grateful to the Lord. God continually showers us with many benefits, but often our prayer is only aimed… at asking him for further favors and not at “giving glory to God” (Lk 17.18), as Jesus underlines.

But in this story the theme is not so much that of gratitude, but that of what it means to believe.

Believe the Word

“In the Gospel according to Luke we have already read about an encounter between Jesus and a leper: begged by the latter, Jesus had stretched out his hand and touched his wounded body, healing him (Lk 5,12-16). Here, however, the lepers are a small group and, staying far away, without approaching him, they shout to him: “Jesus, master, have mercy on us!”. It is a simple and short cry, which highlights the misery of these men. It is a cry repeated many times in the Psalms, as an invocation to the Lord God. The Lord, who is merciful and compassionate (see Exodus 34:6), in his power can accomplish what lepers can only desire but not achieve” (E . Whites).

But here Jesus does not come close to heal them, he does not touch their sick bodies. He only gives one order, which may seem absurd: “Go and present yourselves to the priests”, those who were charged by the Law with diagnosing leprosy and attesting to healing from it (Lk 17.14). Jesus does not perform any healing gesture: he only gives a command. And they believe, they go away still sick but confident in the Word of Jesus. And behold, “as they went, they were purified” (Lk 17:14): their leprosy disappeared and they became pure. “Certainly Luke, in recounting this event, recalls Elisha’s healing of Naaman the Syrian from leprosy: the prophet, remaining far away, orders him through a messenger to go and bathe in the Jordan, and after an initial refusal he agrees and so is healed (2 Kings 5.1-14; Luke 4.27)” (E. Bianchi). In the same way, Jesus behaves with the royal official who comes to ask him to heal his son: “«Lord, come down before my child dies». Jesus answers him: “Go, your son lives.” That man believed the word that Jesus had told him and set out. Just as he was going down, the servants came to meet him and say: “Your son lives!”. He then inquired at what time he began to feel better. They told him: “Yesterday, an hour after midday, the fever left him.” The father recognized that at that very hour Jesus had said to him: «Your son lives» and he and all his family believed” (Jn 4,49-53).

True faith is that which relies on the Word of God alone. It does not expect signs, sensational gestures, immediate wonders. Faith truly means entrusting oneself, trusting, sometimes to the poverty and nakedness of a Promise of which we see no concrete sign of realization.

“Your faith has saved you”

Jesus reiterates that total salvation comes only from adhesion to him, and the healing event, although miraculous, is nothing more than an epiphenomenon of the total overcoming of the creaturely limit that his Incarnation achieves. Only in faith, in the loving “amen” to him, will we find “the way, the truth, the life” (Jn 14.6). This is why Jesus insistently requires Faith from those he heals. In fact, Jesus says to the centurion who begs him to heal his servant: “Go, and let it be done according to your faith” (Mt 8,8-13); “Jesus, turning, said (to the haemorrhaging woman): «Courage, daughter, your faith has healed you»” (Mt 9,22); “Jesus said (to the two blind men): «Do you believe that I can do this?… Let it be done to you according to your faith»” (Mt 9,28-29); “Jesus, meeting (the man born blind) said to him: «Do you believe in the Son of man?»… And he said: «I believe, Lord!»” (Jn 9,35-38); “«I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, he will live; whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? (Martha) answered him: «Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who is to come into the world»” (Jn 11,25-27); “Jesus replied (to the Canaanite): «Woman, your faith is truly great! Let it be done to you as you wish” (Mt 15,28); “Jesus said (to the blind man in Jericho): «Go, your faith has saved you»” (Mk 9,52).

While in Nazareth “he did not perform many miracles because of their unbelief” (Mt 13.58). Jesus does not believe in those who believe in him because of the miracles he performs: John states this with an interesting play on words: “Many, seeing the signs he did, believed in his name. But Jesus did not believe in them” (Jn 2:23-24).

The person of Jesus is the salvation of the world. We must not expect healing from sensational gestures of the Lord, but only from total adherence to him, who takes upon himself the evils of the world and annihilates them in the power of his Resurrection. “We Christians should be very attentive and vigilant when faced with healings and miracles: these occur, to tell the truth, even in non-Christian contexts, but it is not the healings and miracles that give salvation, that make the sick children of the Kingdom and therefore disciples of Jesus. Physical healing does not mean and does not coincide with total, integral healing, that of the most intimate life, the spiritual life that each of us, with more or less awareness, lives” (E. Bianchi). Only Jesus is salvation!

Believing is precisely this attachment to Jesus, becoming one with him: and then all evil, illness, death itself will be annihilated.

A universal Faith

Of the ten lepers healed, only one returns to thank Jesus. And he is a Samaritan (Lk 17.16). The Samaritans were “bastards” from a religious point of view: in 721 BC. C. the Assyrians deported most of the Jews living in Samaria, and replaced them with colonists brought from Assyria. These not only polluted the “ethnic purity” of Israel but, bringing with them their own idolatrous traditions, ended up contaminating the faith of the remaining Jews (2 Kings 17.1-41). Towards the end of the 4th century. to. C. the incessant historical rivalry (Esd 4) ended with the Samaritan schism, with the construction of a new sanctuary on Gerizim, near Shechem, and the acceptance by the Samaritans only of the books of the Pentateuch.

“This time too (see Luke 4,23-27; 7,1-10) whoever enters the space of the children of the Kingdom is a foreigner, a Samaritan, someone outside the people of God, from the Orthodox enclosure. In this story Jesus demolishes many certainties of us Christians barricaded in churches or communities. Outside, outside, even outside there is a work of Christ the Lord which sometimes finds more reception than he has among us who feel inside. God does not make himself known only in ecclesiastical or cultic institutions, but makes himself known above all in Jesus: thanks to him, through him alone, glory is given to God” (E. Bianchi).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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