Deuteronomy 8:7-18; Luke 17:11-19
17th Sunday after Trinity: Harvest
St Barbara’s Church; 8.10.17
Rev Charles Higgins
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus is walking along a border. On one side there’s the region of Galilee – the Jewish region in which Jesus has grown up and on the other Samaria, an area that no self-respecting Jew would want to venture into. There was as little association between Jews and Samaritans as possible. But around this border were people that were confined to the margins whoever they were – people who were suffering from leprosy and were considered unclean by both Jews and Samaritans. At first we don’t know where these 10 people that are miraculously healed of their leprosy are from, but later we’re told – the one who comes back is a Samaritan, a ‘foreigner’ in Jesus’ words.
All of these ten, to a greater or lesser extent, would probably have grown up with the words from our first reading in Deuteronomy – words describing the beauty of the land that God had given his people, the abundance of his provision – that they would lack nothing. In return, he asked that they remember their covenant with him – that they remember that everything they have comes from him. Yet, it would seem that only one of these people, the Samaritan, remembers to respond to God’s blessing with praise and thanksgiving. The other nine weren’t any less blessed than the Samaritan, but they didn’t respond in the same way.
A bit later on this morning we’ll be celebrating our Harvest Festival and although many of us are a bit more removed from that rhythm of crops and the seasons that we remember at Harvest time, our readings today do remind us that God invites us into a rhythm of faith and gratitude. A rhythm that is modelled by the Samaritan who meets Jesus. I know that very often I slip into the forgetfulness that the other nine show. When I go into the supermarket I forget that many people around the world have worked hard so that I can benefit from the food on the shelves. Drawing on Jesus’ meeting with these ten, maybe we could respond to the invitation to thanksgiving, to counting our blessings in the following days and weeks, perhaps particularly at mealtimes, and to relying on Jesus’ presence and healing when blessings seem far away.
As well as thanksgiving, our festival later will focus us on sharing. For when we remember that our blessings are a gift from a loving God, sharing and generosity are a response that God naturally stirs up in us. I don’t doubt that Jesus’ healing made the Samaritan an entirely different person. We’re called to share out of what God has given us – not only food, but in anyway we can with our time or our money or whatever it might be. This encounter with Jesus is one of a number of times in the Gospel of Luke where we’re reminded that God’s greatest riches come from places we might not expect. Just like in the parable of the Good Samaritan two chapters earlier, it is the Samaritan whose faith Jesus makes an example. It is remarkable that so often we experience the greatest generosity from those who seemingly have less than we do. And so perhaps our prayer today should be that we would be thankful, that we would be sharing, but also that we would be aware that often we will also meet Jesus in the generosity that is shown to us, wherever it comes from. Amen