Friday, September 30, 2016

Year C, Proper 23, Luke 17:11-19, Recognizing Health

"Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him."

This may seem like a preposterous suggestion, but its what came to me as I re-read this familiar story of the cleansing of the 10 lepers.  

Over my years in ministry I have almost always preached on this text because it was the appointed text for the Day of Thanksgiving.  And of course, if you are preaching on Thanksgiving you cannot avoid the "moral of the story" about the one who was grateful and returned to give thanks while the nine, did not.  I really got tired trying to preach around that theme.  Really tired.

And then as I read the text today, one thing struck me.  What if the other nine simply did not recognize that they were healed???  It says of this Samaritan that "he saw that he was healed".  Nothing else is mentioned about the others, though.  

Common sense would say that a leper would surely know that they were healed.  Wouldn't they?

But part of my thoughts center around so many conditions, even in my own life, that it is simply not all that clear when you are healed and when you are not.  And to take it a step further, it takes faith to believe that indeed, you have been healed.

My own struggle is with being bipolar.  Against the backdrop of a disease that is chronic, there is this pesky little question of health.  I'll always be bipolar, but does it make sense to talk about being "healed" and "healthy" even though I remain bipolar?  And would I know it when I saw it?  Or would it take faith to believe it?

I'm not alone in this.  Many a cancer patient, for example, has had doubts about whether remission meant cure, and has struggled with whether or not they dared to believe that the cancer was gone.  

Its hard to be totally grateful when doubts remain.  

But its also hard to be healthy amid those same doubts.

"Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."

Perhaps it takes more to be healthy than simply a cure.  Perhaps health also requires faith.  If we continue to live our lives believing we are ill, then we are ill.  

But does believing one IS healthy, actually contribute to that health???   There's a question for you.

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