“When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion: ‘O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.’”
Jesus’ words to St. Faustina as recorded in her Diary, par. 186
It’s hard to imagine not saying, Thank you, to someone who has done something nice for us, especially when that something is significant and extraordinary. Being cured of leprosy was no small thing so Luke’s phrase, one of them, realizing he had been healed, seems a little out of place. Did the other nine not realize they had been cured? Also, it is worth noting that this leper, like Naaman in today’s first reading, was a foreigner.
Lepers were ostracized from society. They were not permitted to participate in Jewish worship or life’s normal activities and had to shout, “unclean,” when passing near others who were normal. Being healed was significant.
Naaman was an Aramean military commander. He did not believe in God but travelled to Israel because he had been told of Elisha’s “powers.” When Elisha told him to bathe in the Jordon he initially refused but finally, with a what-have-I-got-to-lose attitude, relented. This foreigner was not only cleansed but also came to believe in God.
Like Naaman, the leper’s realization was not just in his being cleansed but in his new faith. We see this when he returned, glorifying God… And he fell at the feet of Jesus.
This man was an outcast on two counts. He was a leper and a Samaritan. Yet, instead of going to show himself to the priests—this was a prescription of Jewish law when a person’s leprosy disappeared—he immediately returns to Jesus to thank him and to express his belief in God present in the person of Christ. When we understand this we can then understand Jesus’ final words to him. We can also see that Jesus intended from the beginning that salvation was meant for all mankind, not just the Jews, when he tells the leper, “Your Faith has saved you.”