Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten people who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when they saw they were healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice, knelt at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—this one was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then Jesus said, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17.11-19
A Word of Hope
Something you might not know about me is that I used to be a smoker. Yes, it is true. By the time I was 17 I was smoking nearly 20 a day.
Now, before I go any further, please know that I have no judgement toward anyone who does smoke or vapes. Smoking was introduced to me at a very early age and I had just become so dependent on it and I considered myself an addict. I couldn’t live without my first cigarette in the morning and my last cigarette at night. It was just the way it was. I decided I wanted to stop!
Over my years in ministry I have come to understand how many of us become addicted. Addicted to cigarettes, love, control, power as well as to alcohol and drugs. I have come to a fuller understanding that often, our addictive behaviors can be mechanism through which we mask the pain of something in our past. They can also be linked to our self-esteem and lack of love for self.
Just recently, someone who I have known for nearly 20 years was found in a hotel, unresponsive. He has been addicted to Crystal Meth for many years and, over the years has tried to stop. He has relapsed many times. This is a powerful drug. His story is a very familiar one to many, far too many these days, and it breaks my heart and, as always reminds me the “but by the grace of God, go I”.
Thankfully, while he was unresponsive, the paramedics got to him in time and he survived this last relapse. I was able to visit with him and spoke with him about what he was going on in his life.
My prayer is that he will seek out the help that he needs and, of course I will do everything I possibly can to assist him, to find long-lasting recovery. However, there is some work that only WE can do. I can find the resources, but each person must make a personal decision about what they will do with them.
This was a similar decision that was to be made by all those that Jesus healed in the healing stories of the New Testament.
I have often wondered why only one of the lepers returned to show Jesus the completeness of their healing. Perhaps it was because the other nine went back to their old patterns of living and never put in the work that was required of them to make healing a life journey. Perhaps they relapsed and at another time came to try again.
Wherever we are in life’s journey, it is never too late to do the work necessary to heal the past and to step into a new day fully committed to work at our wholeness, our healing.
As you begin this new day, begin today committed to never allowing the past to determine your future and find the resources necessary to do the hard work of living into a new day – a new life, promised through our faith in the Great Physician, Jesus.
Healing God, hear my cries this day as I commit to this day, whole and complete to the work of healing in my life which will ultimately assist in bringing healing to others and the world.
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas
Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Hope UCC, Dallas