It seems to me that there are two important lessons in today’s gospel. We know that the Samaritans were not held in high esteem by the Jewish people. They were considered heretics; they were to be shunned by the chosen people. And yet several times in the New Testament Jesus uses the Samaritans as the good guy in the story. One parable is even named after a Samaritan, the Good Samaritan. In the gospel event today, it seems that this group of lepers was made up of nine Jews and one Samaritan. This means that when they were defined by a disease, the disease trumped their religious differences. The first lesson, then, is that we should learn to focus on what unites us not just on what divides us. We can always find a common denominator if we search hard enough. The second lesson is the importance of gratitude. Certainly gratitude is owed to the one who does a good deed for someone else and encourages that person to continue to be generous to others. But gratitude also enriches the one who gives it. Doctors even say that gratitude is good for one’s health because it allows us to experience life as rich and meaningful. When we are grateful we see the world more appreciatively. We recognize our need for one another and grow in our willingness to share our gifts with one another. As spirit of gratitude allows us to remember that “No man is an island.” We can only hope that eventually the other nine lepers came to the same understanding as the Samaritan.
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