11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)
Jesus runs into ten lepers crying for mercy. It is a cry we repeat in our liturgy. We cry for mercy with the lepers, recognizing our leprosy, our sin. Jesus tells the men to go show themselves to the priest. The priests were tasked with the job of determining who was clean and unclean. They were the ones who would determine if one had leprosy. To obey Jesus in this took faith, especially on behalf of a Samaritan who would never be declared clean. But he went. He believed Jesus would heal him. And when he was healed he returned to give thanks to Jesus. The other nine went on their way. Perhaps they thought they deserved to be clean because they were children of Abraham, that they had just been given their just deserts. It is for this reason they missed the kingdom. They thought they deserved it. The Samaritan knew better, he knew it was only by the grace of God that he had been shown mercy.