Reflecting on Lk. 17: 11-19
Geography. It’s my biggest challenge. I remain mystified by maps and global positioning, and—it really is this bad—if I pull up a Google map of the street where I’ve lived for 31 years I have no idea how to find my house.
But geography is one of the main characters in biblical stories. Knowing where an event took place gives the reader insight into the lives of the people involved. For Namaan the Syrian to travel all the way down to the Jordan River, passing two perfectly good rivers in Damascus on the way, tells us how miserable his leprosy was, and how desperate this “foreigner” was for relief.
After his healing he had one plan moving forward. He would cart home as much of that holy ground as possible, because “there is no God on all the earth, except in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15). Hmm.
The ten lepers (whom St. Luke says appeared to Jesus at the border of the Galilee and Samaria) were instructed by Jesus, before they were cleansed, to show themselves to the priests. Now, one of those lepers was actually from Samaria, where the Samaritans had their own Temple and their own priesthood. Awkward! Did he really have to go all the way down to Jerusalem to find the priests, or could he stay put once he arrived in his own town?
His resolution was perfect. He went back to Jesus and gave thanks to him! Unlike Naaman 800 years before him, this “foreigner” perceived that the One True God wasn’t chained to a land, or a Temple. To know this God, and give thanks to this God—euchariston—makes all of us strangers no longer.
What favorite geographic spot brings you closest to God?
Kathy McGovern ©2019