Commentary on the Gospel of

Suzanne Braddock St. John's Parish



St. Martin of Tours, like other soldiers-to-become-saints, had a flair for courage, generosity and the flashy gesture. In his case, he famously used his sword to slash in half his cape, giving one part to a beggar. Presumably he kept the other half.

Similarly transforming was the gesture of St. Francis of Assisi kissing a leper, thus overcoming his fear of contagion, and strong desire to avoid the leprous man, with a courageous act of love.

Social distancing to avoid disease is nothing new. Long before the germ theory of disease, isolation and fear of contagion kept anyone with visible skin disease “unclean,” on the outskirts of society. According to custom, one could re-enter society only after a priest certified a cure.

The ten lepers in today’s Gospel needed to raise their voices to be heard from their (socially safe) distance.  “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” Jesus only instructs them to show themselves to the priests.

As they were going, all were cured, but like St. Martin of Tours’ kept half-cloak, only one – a foreigner – returned to thank Jesus. 

Again a raising of the voice – a loud voice giving glory to God, and the cured one no longer distanced himself but courageously and with great faith approached Jesus, threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.

For me it takes courage to raise my voice to God, to ask for a felt closeness, a sure knowledge of his love for me. But when I do, it is in the going that he answers me. God’s love for me becomes felt in acts of kindness toward those he presents to me throughout the day. Isolated as we are during Covid-19, a phone call, a letter, a prayer for others all manifest God’s love for us.  I can feel it.

May we all throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet and thank him.


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