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13 October 2013
posted by Canon Dakin on 11-10-2013

Our Lord was fairly rubbing it in: Jews and Samaritans were like Republicans and Loyalists in Northern Ireland.  As I mentioned last week, 500 years before Our Lord  Israel had been battered by waves of invasions. The people had been displaced and settled elsewhere. Jerusalem had been left abandoned but foreigners had been introduced into Samaria and their presence had somewhat clouded the original clarity of the Jewish religion. . It was, therefore, a despised foreigner who alone had the good manners to return and    give thanks for his cure from leprosy.

The Church reads SS. in two ways. It takes the text at face value - in this instance a simple tale of ingratitude.  But then the Church begins to see what is called the spiritual meaning. She sees leprosy as a symbol of sin from which we are healed by Christ.  Which raises the question of thanksgiving. We are raised from our fallen state by the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Any gesture of his would have sufficed because of his dignity as a divine person but he chose the way that might most appeal to our sense of gratitude when we are able to contemplate a crucifix. It is the supreme expression of his love.  And he naturally looks for love in return. Three times he said to Peter: Simon Peter, do you love me? It is  actually through our union with him that we are able to enter into those loving relationships which give us most happinss.  The love he looks for is to find expression in the love we show to others. For our inspiration, for our motivation, we are not to look to be satisfied but to serve. And, of coure, if you really loved someone you would never cause them pain. Then why does God allow us to suffer?  We only get hints towards an answer and there were two of them on Monday night’s television programmes.  I like Doc Martin. It is slightly zany but it is gentle with serious undertones.  A small boy was taken to the surgery by his mother for an injection. The lugubrious doctor, who never smiles,  brandished the needle in front of the boy whilst testing the plunger, then rammed it into the boy’s arm. He yelped - but he would never have questoned why his mother had subjected him to such unpleasantness because he trusted her love. That followed a programme was about Malala, the girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head for defying the Taliban on the education of girls. She was saved from death by an emergency operation in Pakistan and then flown to England for two further operations to enable her to hear and to speak normally. She has suffered but as a result she has been empowered. She is the youngest person ever to to have addressed the United Nations assembly. She is very mature for her years and a deeply religious person. I have no doubt that she will regard her being injured as providential because it has placed her in a position from which  she can promote her cause far more strongly than before. So we can pick up sll kinds of hints which, if we trust God’s love, can give us an intimation also of his wisdom. Ancient mosaics show the cross plunged into dark earth and green shoots of new life rising and spreading from its base. When we are asked to enter into that same mystery by sharing a tiny portion of Our Lord’s cross, we may not see the green shoots emerging - but they will be there.  

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