St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
28th Sunday After Pentecost

The Ten Lepers Who Were Cleansed

Luke 17:12-19

The Gospel reading for this Sunday tells us of the ten lepers who stood afar off – ostracized by their disease and utterly cast off from society. As Jesus was passing by they lifted up their voices and shouted: ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’

Our Lord Jesus Christ heard their cries and had compassion upon them. He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was, that as they went, they were cleansed from their horrible infirmity.

The nine who were healed, continued straight away to the priests to be declared clean and able to re-enter the community. One of them, who was a despised Samaritan, upon seeing his cure, turned back and ran to Jesus and fell down at His feet, giving Him thanks.

Jesus answered and said: ‘Were there not ten that were cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to the one who had returned to give thanks: ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ… today’s Gospel reading is all about thanksgiving and gratitude to God. A heart of gratitude is one of the keys to a healing faith.

That exhortation to gratefulness to God in all things is a timely one for us today. It is an easy tendency for us to look at the glass as half empty… to see all the things that are wrong in our lives and in the world around us and allow this to push us into an atmosphere of gloom. And there is plenty to be concerned about…

But can we make the effort to see that that half-empty glass is also half full? Do we have gratitude to God for the simple blessings of life?... Food on our table, a roof over our heads… indeed, every breath we take, every beat of our heart, every moment of our life is a gift from God. If only we had this awareness, this humble and thankful heart of gratitude to God… our lives and our perception of things would be illumined with grace and love and joy – even amid our tribulations.

And, indeed, it is not only for the good things in life for which we should thank God… but even amid our sorrows and our misfortunes, we can raise up our hearts in glorification to God for all things, knowing that even amid tribulations we can be of good cheer, for Christ has overcome the world.

There is a beautiful Akathist written by Metropolitan Tryphon, (Turkestanov). The Akathist came to be known through Archpriest Gregory Petroff, who died in a Soviet prison camp in the 1940s. That this Akathist came to light from amid the darkness of the Soviet gulag is a statement unto itself. Here are a few excerpts…

Everlasting King, Thy will for our salvation is full of power. Thy right arm controls the whole course of human life. We give Thee thanks for all Thy mercies, seen and unseen. For eternal life, for the heavenly joys of the Kingdom which is to be. Grant mercy to us who sing Thy praise, both now and in the time to come. Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age.

It is the Holy Spirit who makes us find joy in each flower, the exquisite scent, the delicate colour, the beauty of the Most High in the tiniest of things. Glory and honour to the Spirit, the Giver of Life, who covers the fields with their carpet of flowers, crowns the harvest with gold, and gives to us the joy of gazing at it with our eyes.

The dark storm clouds of life bring no terror to those in whose hearts Thy fire is burning brightly. Outside is the darkness of the whirlwind, the terror and howling of the storm, but in the heart, in the presence of Christ, there is light and peace, silence.

How near Thou art in the day of sickness. Thou Thyself visitest the sick; Thou Thyself bendest over the sufferer’s bed. His heart speaks to Thee. In the throes of sorrow and suffering Thou bringest peace and unexpected consolation. Thou art the comforter. Thou art the love which watches over and heals us. To Thee we sing the song: Alleluia!

Life-giving and merciful Trinity, receive my thanksgiving for all Thy goodness. Make us worthy of Thy blessings, so that, when we have brought to fruit the talents Thou hast entrusted to us, we may enter into the joy of our Lord, forever exulting in the shout of victory: Alleluia!

What a marvelous hymn of praise to God! What a divine and proper perspective of life!

Life presents us with the good and the bad. This is inevitable and there is a tug which pulls us toward darkness and despair. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us resist this pull… Let us do our part to push back against the darkness with the light of Christ. The darkness of the troubles of this world will not be overcome by the darkness of our anger or frustration or despair, but only by the light or our prayers, our fasting... through our perceiving God’s goodness in all things and cultivating a heart of gratitude to God.

Life is a miracle! Every day that we wake up to the rising of the sun is a gift from the lovingkindness of our Almighty God! How will we spend this day? How will we make best use of the moments expanding out before us?

Let us give thanks to God! Let us take nothing for granted! If we live our life in the conscious awareness of the generosity of God, we will perceive and rejoice in His presence and in His handiwork. …And coming before our Lord with a thankful heart, may we then hear the words which were given to the one leper who returned to give thanks to Christ, ‘Arise and go your way, your faith has made you well.’

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