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The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost C – October 9, 2022

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The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost C – October 9, 2022

This text, often associated with the readings for the Day of Thanksgiving, puts before its hearers an occasion for pride or an occasion for despair.  Jesus’ question, “Where are the nine?” confronts us with the reality of empty pews.  Sanctuaries should be filled to overflowing with people grateful… eternally grateful… for the salvation Jesus has gifted them.  

Sin is a more desperate disease than leprosy.  Leprosy was one of those dreaded skin diseases that slowly destroyed a person’s life.  Isolation and quarantine were thought to curtail its spread.  Victims, like the ten lepers of our reading, had to separate themselves from family, friends, and livelihood.  As they went around the countryside, they had to announce their presence with shouts of, “Unclean, unclean!”  Sin, even though it is a more deadly disease, does not have to be announced.  It operates very well in secret.  But disclosed or not, it remains one hundred percent fatal.  Everyone dies in their sin.

The sanctuaries of our church buildings, each one having a pulpit for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the only rescue from the death sin works upon us, should stand full.  But they’re not!  Where are the nine?

The question also delivers us into an occasion for pride.  After all, those of us who are in the sanctuary… those of us who hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ… those of us who are rescued from the death sin works upon us… we are the ten percent.  We in the sanctuary, having returned to give thanks, easily take pride in our status as “one in ten.”  Pride elevates us above the ungrateful multitude of that ninety percent remaining out in the world.  From that lofty position, it’s quite natural to speak as did the Pharisee, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people…” who are such “ungrateful louts” (Lk. 18:11).

Which is more dangerous to our faith?  Is it despair over empty pews and the failure of the institution of church… a doubt that the Word of God retains its authority?  Is it our pride that we are the chosen… the faithful… “the well” as opposed to all those “sin-sick losers” out there?  The fact is both pride and despair are deadly to our faith.  Confess them now and receive the absolution!

Table Talk:  Discuss the great and shameful sins of pride and despair.
Pray:  Guide me, Heavenly Father, as you forgive my pride and despair.  Amen

Luke 17:11-19 English Standard Version

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”