The question of this series is, “When (Christ) returns, will he find faith on earth?”
From this week’s story, we could ask instead, “Will Christ find gratitude on earth?”
Luke tells a story of 10 men with skin disease who approach Jesus during his travels, somewhere between Samaria and Galilee. The men keep their distance. Their disease was considered a sign that they had sinned, and with the disease they were considered unclean, untouchable. They call out to Jesus loudly, asking for mercy, and Jesus simply tells them to go show themselves to the priests. That’s what they would do after being cured, to be pronounced clean, touchable, again. While walking off to find the priests, all 10 men are healed.
One man is moved to return and bow in awe and gratitude. Jesus’ first response is wonder, “Where are the other nine?” and then (feigned?) surprise: “The one who praises God is a foreigner!?” This man was a Samaritan, considered “unclean” among the Jews for his identity, not only the disease he had. The other nine, as Jews, were expected to give thanks as a basic practice of their faith in God.
If we are “Still keeping the faith,” what unexpected person might remind us of the basics of our own faith, like Thanksgiving? Someone from another denomination, who understands the Bible differently from me? A Jewish person? A Muslim person? An atheist?
Keeping the faith is keeping our eyes open, to recognize God in others, even others whom we once thought untouchable.
Keeping faith is giving thanks. “Get up. Your faith has healed you.” The Samaritan gave thanks. Jesus calls it faith. Thanksgiving is faith. Thanksgiving acknowledges that we didn’t earn all that we have. Thanksgiving expresses faith in the one who has given all.