29th Sunday 



The Healing of the Ten Lepers

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen

Today is the Twenty Eighth Sunday after Pentecost and also, being
December 9th, we remember the Conception of the Holy Theotokos by St.
Anna. The main reading today is about the Healing of the Ten Lepers. In
this miracle, like most of the miracles in the Gospel, is presented to
us an inner meaning and outer meaning. The inner meaning is about  what
true faith really is, and also about the unfaithfulness and
unthankfulness of the Jews. The outer meaning seems to be clear, that 
we should in all things give thanks to God, particularly when we are
given great gifts, and only one man gave thanks  to God for this great
boon that he was given, this healing from his leprosy. 

 ?And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that
were lepers, which stood afar off:  And they lifted up their voices, and
said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. ?

Leprosy was an affliction  that represented uncleanness. A leper was
disenfranchised from his community. He could not enter into the temple,
and he could not even come near a Jew, much less touch one. Someone who
came close to him or touched him would be considered unclean, until he
fulfilled various ceremonies prescribed in the law. A leper was truly an
exile among his own people.

These lepers were ?afar off¦. They were afar off because they had to
stay away from the Jews, because of their uncleanness. They also were
afar off because we cannot approach God, being full of sins. Leprosy is
a metaphor for our sins.  A man who has  sins is certainly afar off 
from God. When they lifted up their  voices to ask God to have mercy,
this reminds us of the two blind men. In another place, it says: ?two
blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have
mercy on us.¦ They were insistent, just as these lepers must have been
insistent. Being afar off, they must have had to shout loudly and often,
since with the bustle and press of the crowd, it would have been hard to
make their voices known. They must have insistently had to cry out for
mercy to God, far away from Him, in their sins.

At least  they knew they were fall away. So many of us don-t understand 
how far away we truly are, and how much we need to call out to God, and
ask forgiveness for our sins, like the publican, or like the blind men,
or like these lepers.

?And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the
priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.¦

He is following Jewish law to the  letter here. He did not always do it
this way. ?And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying,
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his
hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately
his leprosy was cleansed.  And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no
man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that
Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.¦  There was a whole ritual 
and ceremony that was necessary when a leper was cleansed. It is quite
beautiful, and symbolic of Christ-s economy, and cleansing of us. I
cannot really go into it, because I don-t know it very well, but St.
Cyril of Jerusalem talks about it extensively. 

Our Lord was following Jewish law so that He would not be judged before
His time, but we can see from this other example that our Lord will
touch the unclean and make it clean. He also shows from what we are
reading today, that obedience can make a man clean. He just said to the
lepers, before they were cleansed, -Go to the priests-. Now, why in the
world would a man go to a priest, when he  is  still full of leprosy.
This is akin to the man, who was born blind, even without eyes, to go to
the pool of Siloam, and wash, still being blind. Because of obedience,
these people were cleansed. Even the ones who were not thankful to the
Lord  were cleansed, because, after all, they were obedient too, but
they lost their reward, as we will see in a minute. 

?And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with
a loud voice glorified God,  And fell down on his face at his feet,
giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.¦

This man uses his head, or should I say, he uses his heart. He was
ordered to go to the priest, and then he was cleansed on the way. He
knew that the  Great High Priest had healed him, so he obeyed the
command. He  went to Great High Priest and worshipped Him. This man
understood. He had eyes to see, and ears to hear. He saw what a  great
miracle had been worked, and he knew that only God would be able to do
such a thing. This man was a thoughtful man. He considered things. These
other nine, even upon seeing the example of one of their kindred,  were
not thoughtful. It did not occur to they why they were cleansed, and Who
they had just encountered. They had just seen the God-man, and been
healed  by His mercy, and yet they did not really understand.

The law is about love and thankfulness. The law is about becoming like
God.  The Jewish law is very  intricate, and you would be amazed how
many things in the Jewish law we still follow to this day, but it-s 
essence is the Christian law. that  essence is to become like God, to be
enlightened, and, being enlightened by Him, to become like Him. Not in
His essence, but in His actions. to be full of love  for every man, to
be fire. This leper understood that he had just encountered fire, and he
went back to it. These nine men, who had also been healed, did not
understand, because they were not thinking with their hearts. They were
not being enlightened. 

The other Gospel says something that relates very much to what we are
considering here. It says: 

?Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be
given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which
he seemeth to have.¦

Be careful how you hear.  Everyone is hearing the same thing, but we are
hearing it differently, because we are hearing it through the prism of
our consciousness, and our passions, and our sins, and our agendas. To
the pure, all things are pure. The pure in heart will see God. The
impure will see Him, and yet not see Him, and hear Him, and yet not
understand him. They may be healed by Him, and yet they will not really
be completely healed by Him. The real healing of the leper we  are about
to see. His healing from leprosy was only the beginning, just like the
man who was born blind. When he went to the pool of Siloam and came
back, having been  given eyes to see,  he was enlightened to see the
God-man, and to know Him, and REALLY healed at that point. We can see
this over and over again. Christ heals the man inside and out. We have
seen only a partial  healing so far today. The leper still has a bit
more medication to be given, and his healing will be completed.

?And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are
the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save
this stranger.¦

A Samaritan  was a heretic, plain and simple. They worshipped false
gods, and also the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, as the falsely
understood Him, and rejected all of the sacred scripture, save the
Pentateuch, the first five books. They were shunned by the Jews, as they
should have been, because they were an unclean people, and yet, even
among those people, there were ones with great souls, that God was able
to touch, just like St. Photini, who was a Samaritan, the woman at the
well. The nine  Jews who did not return represent, in microcosm, the
Jewish nation. Someone in that audience certainly understood what He was
really referring to.  This healing, and many other actions of our Savior
 was a harbinger of things to come, bringing the nations into communion
with God. As for those who were first given the promise, so many of
those would reject it, just like these 9 lepers who rejected God by  not
giving Him thanks. 

?And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee

We have heard  this so many times in the scriptures, ?thy faith hath
made thee whole.¦ Now, what was his faith? He was told to go to the
priests.  We don-t know if he had a sure hope of being healed at that
time. He might have been confused. We don-t know if his faith was in
that action or not, but when he  was healed, he came to the God-man and
worshipped him There was his faith! Faith is how we live. Faith  is how
we act. Faith is when God enlightens us, and He fills us, and there is
so much within  us that we cannot but act in ways that are pleasing to
Him. A spring overflowing from our hearts! -- that-s what faith is.
Faith is not believing  something only. It is being so filled with God,
that we act like God, in mercy in love, in compassion, and  that we
recognize God, and we worship Him as Who He is. That is faith, and this
leper, this former leper, had faith, because He saw the God-man, and he
was touched by Him, and he reacted to Him! 

What can  we learn from this short, little story, just a few lines? We
can certainly  see that one should give thanks to God, but more
fundamentally, the inner meaning is that this leper had eyes to see, and
ears to hear, and saw the God-man, and ACTED upon what he learned and
what he knew  Then, the God-man, truly healed him, and made him filled
with knowledge, so  that he would grow to fruition. It is the same
principle for us. The church gives us so many wonderful gifts, so many
incalculable  riches, and many times, we do not value them very much at
all. We don-t understand what a great thing we have been given. On an
intellectual level, perhaps we understand, but we don-t act with fervent
faith because of them. The gifts we have been given are so tremendous
that they should spur us on, and make us live in Christ. Brothers and
sisters, living in Christ is not only knowing those things that God has
revealed to us in the books and the traditions of our church. Those are
all  God inspired, and God breathed, but we must make these things to be
the definition of who we are, not just what we know.  We should have
such a mastery of God-s mercy in our life so that we would react in ways
that are good and holy naturally. It was natural for this leper. 

For us, just as for this  leper,  this comes though labor, through
effort. The leper was sick for a long time, he had to endure much for a
long time. So do we, unfortunately, mostly  because of our sins. So, let
us endure, let us proceed, and let us try to capture God-s mercy in our
hearts, and let it warm us and enlighten us. 



Old Believer Sermon for the 29th  Sunday after Pentecost (unpublished)

 ?Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke¦, St. Cyril, Patriarch of

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 This homily was transcribed from one given On December 19th   1996
according to the church calendar, being the Twenty Ninth  Sunday after
Pentecost, and commemoration of the conception of the Most Holy

There are some stylistic changes and minor corrections made and several
footnotes have been added, but otherwise, it is essentially in a
colloquial, ?spoken¦ style. 

It is hoped that something in these words will help and edify the
reader, but a sermon read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as
attendance and reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the
soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the
preaching of them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such
circumstances the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read
on a page. 

 Luke 17:14

 Matthew 9:27

 Luke 18:10-14, read on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, one
of the preparatory sundays before Great Lent

 Matthew 9:27-30, and especially, Matthew 20:30-34

 Luke 17:15

 Matthew 8:2-4

 Luke 17:16

 Luke 8:18 (part of the reading for the Conception of the Holy Theotokos
by St. Anna)

 Titus 1:15

 Matthew 5:8, sung at liturgy as part of the 3rd Antiphon  (the

 Cf. John 9:1-38, the Healing of the man born blind from his birth, read
on the Sunday of the Blind Man, the 5th  Sunday after Pascha

 See especially  John 9:35-38

 Luke 17:17-18

 Cf. John 4:5-42, the story of the Samaritan woman, who became a great
Saint, and equal to the Apostles, St. Photini. The Sunday of the
Samaritan woman is the 4th Sunday after Pascha.

 Luke 17:19

The 29th Sunday after Pentecost

The Healing of the Woman with an Issue of Blood

 and the Raising of the Daughter of Jairus

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The Healing of the Ten Lepers

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