“Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
We may not feel inclined to think of ourselves as lepers. It’s not an appealing image. But that’s the plain meaning of these ten persons in today’s Gospel passage. The ten lepers represent us. In fact, we’re much worse off than lepers. Leprosy ends with earthly death. But the effects of sin—alienation and estrangement from God and neighbor—are unending, ever-lasting, without end if we die in mortal sin. Without a Redeemer to save us from sin, our suffering will not end with earthly death, but only begin in earnest.
Jesus saves the ten from leprosy with little more than a few words, such is His divine power. But Jesus saves all of mankind from the far greater penalty of eternal death. Jesus offers salvation to you not by speaking a few words, but by sacrificing up His complete self—Body, Blood, soul and divinity—to a Passion and Death on the Cross that He suffered out of love: not out of compulsion, or to get something back in return, or to impress anyone, but simply and completely out of love for us. If this doesn’t inspire gratitude in each of us, it’s hard to imagine what might.