Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Healing of the Ten Lepers
23 December 1990
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
The Gospel - all the Gospel is a gift of God to us, and although we
are not continuously reminded of the need to be grateful, how can we
not respond with gratitude to what the Gospel brings to us? God has so
loved the world that He has given His only begotten Son that the world
may be saved; and the Son has given Himself freely, in the sovereign
freedom of His Divinity to us; no-one has taken His life from Him -
these are His own words; He gave His life willingly, freely, that we
And today we have in the Gospel a short example of the way in which
we, most of the time, receive the gifts of God. Ten men came, covered
with leprosy, condemned to a cruel death by illness, but also rejected
ritually by their own people for the impurity of this infectious
disease. They came to Him, stood at a distance, because they knew that
according to the Jewish Law they had no right even to come near Him to
touch Him. And they asked for mercy. And God send them to the priests
to bring forth the sign of their gratitude for the healing which they
had not received; and they believed, and they went, and they were
healed before they reached their goal... We might have expected that
they rushed back to fall to the feet of Christ, to touch Him in
gratitude - no. Nine of them went their way; it was enough for them to
have been healed: it▓s all they needed of God. One of them, however,
turned round, and came to thank the Lord.
Isn▓t it an image of the way in which so often we also behave? We
pray; we ask the Lord for something that matters to us: it may not be
live and death, it may just be that we need so much one thing or
another; or that we don▓t even need it so much, but that we long so
much for it. And then it is given us; and we receive the gift, and we
rush into life with this gift in our hearts, this gift in our hands,
we rush to life because it is enough for us that our prayer was
fulfilled. How seldom it is that we come back, leaving our gift to be
used later, but first of all turning to God and saying: What wander!
What is Your love! How great, how compassionate, how humble that You
have responded to my prayer...
One out of ten came back to the Lord Jesus Christ: how many of us have
ever come immediately, before they took advantage of the gift to turn
to God with a smile, like a child turns and say 'Thank you!▓, even
with a smile, without words before taking advantage of what is given.
And we loose so much at not being grateful; because if we learned to
be grateful for the obvious gifts of God, we would gradually discover
that we can be grateful for a great deal more, for everything that
Providence puts in our way: not only things we rejoice in, not only
the wanders of life, but even the challenges of life, the things that
claims from us courage, greatness, nobility, the things which we are
afraid of. And how often we could overcome vanity by gratitude!
Because vanity consists in looking at ourselves, and thinking how
wonderful we are, forgetting that all that we are, all that we have is
a gift of God. If we only, every time we have said the right thing,
done the right thing, been worthy of our human quality, human
greatness and nobility, and also of the name of the disciples of
Christ - if every time we turned to God and said, ▒Yes! How wonderful
are the words I have spoken, how good is the action I have performed -
and everything was of You: the occasion was given by You, o Lord! I
was able to perceive the need because You whispered in my heart: Look!
I could understand because I had my mind enlightened by the Gospel! My
heart responded because You touched it, and from the heart of stone
which I carry in my bosom most of the time it became a heart of flesh
full of compassion and of understanding! And You gave me the means of
meeting the need, and the joy of meeting this need!.. If we could
respond to everything this way, we would discover that life is made
into an act of worship and of gratitude.
Let us reflect on this because we are coming within a few weeks, a few
days now to a day when our heart should be aflame with gratitude: God
has loved us so much as to become one of us; while we were strangers,
alien to Him, often inimical to Him, He came, and He gave His life for
us that we may live!.. We must prepare for it: joy, gratitude, faith,
openness to God does not happen of a sudden; we must prepare for it.
Let us reflect on what is going to happen; the thing that happened
nearly two thousand years ago we shall remember as an actual event
now, in a few weeks; and be ready, with a heart tilled, deeply
furrowed by faith, by reflection, having though out all our life,
ready to receive the Lord like a shepherd, in the simplicity and
purity of our hearts, or like the Wise Men in the deep understanding
of wisdom. Amen!