We live in a world consumed by prejudice. Our children are sometimes treated as outsiders by other students in school. Our friends are sometimes viewed as strangers at work by their coworkers. Our family sometimes feels unwelcome in the very neighborhoods in which we have lived for years. Feeling unwelcomed can be a crippling reality that forces many families to remain isolated and separate from even the closest human being. Eventually, the constant feeling of not being welcomed by others can fool us into believing that even God won’t welcome us in His Church. But still we come because in our heart we know that God can help us, if only He could see past our faults.
I imagine these were the exact emotions shared by ten men who approached Jesus Christ to be healed. In the story of the Ten Lepers, we witness the effect of God’s never-ending love on the lives of ten outcasts of society. Ten men who were not welcomed by their fellow town-folk came to God, begging for mercy, and they were each healed by Jesus Christ. Ten men who were courageous enough to “tune out” the words of others and approach God were given a new chance at life.
It didn’t matter that these ten men were shunned by other “more respectable” members of the city. It didn’t matter that these men were foreigners rather than local insiders. Each was healed by God. But we learn one additional and more important lesson from this story. It was the ONE man who returned to worship God that was “made well” and honored by Jesus. And he was a foreigner!
Now consider the story from the point of view of the crowd. We are the crowd. Unfortunately, there are times that we treat others like they do not belong. Maybe their family came from the wrong island. Maybe their ancestors were from the wrong country. Maybe they have the wrong career. Maybe they said something mean to us years ago.
There are many ‘maybes’ but only one result. Every time we treat others like they do not belong, no matter why, we push them away from God’s blessings. It was the one single foreigner who had the courage to return to God to say ‘thank you’ for the miracle. He found a way to ignore the others who had not welcomed him. He found a way to be blessed by God. We can find a way to be blessed by God. Everyone can find a way to be blessed by God.