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St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
28th Sunday After Pentecost

The Ten Lepers Who Were Cleansed

Luke 17:12-19

The Gospel reading for this Sunday tells us of the ten lepers who stood afar off – ostracized by their disease and utterly cast off from society. As Jesus was passing by they lifted up their voices and shouted: ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’

Our Lord Jesus Christ heard their cries and had compassion upon them. He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was, that as they went, they were cleansed from their horrible infirmity.

The nine who were healed, continued straight away to the priests to be declared clean and able to re-enter the community. One of them, who was a despised Samaritan, upon seeing his cure, turned back and ran to Jesus and fell down at His feet, giving Him thanks.

Jesus answered and said: ‘Were there not ten that were cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him: ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ… today’s Gospel reading is all about thanksgiving and gratitude to God.

Do we realize our indebtedness to God? Every breath we take, every beat of our heart, every moment of our life is a gift from God. If only we had this awareness, this humble and thankful heart of gratitude to God… our lives and our perception of things would be illumined with Grace and Love and Joy.

Listen to the words of the Holy Apostle Paul from his letter to the Phillipians:

‘Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.’

We must cultivate a heart of joy and gratitude to God. Meditating on those things which are true and good and noble.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ… we are constantly bombarded with news which upsets us and drags us down… Wars and terrorism headline the international news. And fear and division and lewdness headline our national news. It is enough to drive one to despair!

But we must ask ourselves, who is placing the filter on what we perceive about the world? Who is determining what is ‘news’? Why is it that terrorism and murder and intimidation make the headlines? While on this same day there are so many acts of kindness and compassion and love occurring throughout the world?

Perhaps you may react to that statement saying: ‘Oh Father… kindness and compassion and love are all very nice, but these things don’t compare in terms of importance to things like terrorism and murder and all the political struggle that is happening in the world!’

Well, I beg to differ. These Christian virtues are THE most important thing in the world today and they are the only thing which can stand against the tide of terror and apostasy.

Where will we choose to focus our attention? How will our perceptions and presuppositions contribute to the climate of our world?

If we mediate on, and concentrate on, and contribute to that which is true and noble and good – are we burying our heads in the sand? Instead, I would assert that if we meditate on, and concentrate on, and contribute to that which is dark and suspicious and cynical – are we not burying our heads in garbage?

Life presents and is filled with the good and the bad. It is a symptom of our times that we are pulled down the path leading to darkness and despair. We must resist this pull… and we must do our part to push back against the darkness with the light of Christ.

One of the fundamental and foundational ways in which we can begin to do this is through perceiving God’s goodness and cultivating a heart of gratitude to God.

Life is a miracle! Every day that we wake up to the rising of the sun is a gift from the lovingkindness of our Almighty God! How will we spend this day? How will we make best use of the moments expanding out before us?

Let us give thanks to God! Let us not take anything for granted! If we live our life in the conscious awareness of the generosity of God, we will perceive and rejoice in that which is true, and noble, and pure... and may we then hear the words which were given to the one leper who returned to give thanks to Christ, ‘Arise and go your way, your faith has made you well.’

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