Saint Josaphat, an Eastern Rite bishop, honoured as a martyr to church unity because he died trying to bring part of the Orthodox Church into union with Rome. He was canonised in 1867 and became the first member of the Eastern Church to be formally canonised as a saint of the Latin Church.
All over the world children play a game called Opposite Day. On Opposite Day everything that is said must be interpreted as the exact opposite: stop means go; up means down; run means walk; and work means play. After hearing about the ten lepers, we might think that Our Lord was playing Opposite Day. He worked this miracle of healing in a way opposite to what we usually witness.
For instance, in the story of the paralytic who was let down through the roof (Luke 5:17-26), Our Lord considered the faith of the paralytic’s friends and told the man; ‘your sins are forgiven’. It wasn’t until after he sensed that charges of blasphemy were rising up against him that he healed the man physically. But today’s gospel is just the opposite. First, Our Lord healed the men’s leprosy and then he told the one former leper who returned to thank him ‘Your faith has made you well’, indicating the spiritual healing of forgiveness and salvation.
Nine of those lepers who were healed didn’t return to say thank you. We don’t know any more about these nine, but we can assume that such lack of consideration kept them from being made well on the spiritual level. By not going back to Jesus, they missed out on the greater healing. While it’s true that Our Lord wants to heal us physically, he is just as interested—if not more so—in our spiritual healing. In time all ten of those men died, and their mortal bodies decayed. Yet we know that at least one of them was lifted up to heaven because he was made well.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we encounter Our Lord’s power to remove our sins and to tell us, ‘your faith has made you well’. Our part in the process is easy. We simply go to him and ask for forgiveness and then we try not to commit those sins any more. In response to our humility and our contrition Our Lord forgives, he heals, and he mends our relationship with him. If Our Lord can do so much, why do we find it so difficult to do the little bit required of us?