Remind your people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit. (R./)
He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort. (R./)
You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing. (R./)
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord's own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever. (R./)
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
Nine of the ten who were cured missed a golden chance, when they failed to return to say thanks. The one man who did come back to say thanks hears a powerful word: "Your faith has saved you." We need a faith like this, to recognise our dependency on God for life and all its blessings, including all the help we get from others to keep us going.
Our faith in God motivates us to put our best self to the service of life, and so to give praise to our Maker. The Samaritan who threw himself on his knees in gratitude is told, "Stand up and go on your way." With this encouragement he goes his way, no longer forbidden to live close to others, no longer ostracized as unclean but blessed with health and zest for life.
Alongside this positive note comes a commentary on ingratitude. "Were not all ten made whole? Where are the other nine? Was there no one to return and give thanks to God except this foreigner?" Perhaps the other nine took their sudden return to health for granted so that they forgot the normal courtesy of thanking their healer.
Titus gets a list of practical instructions for his Christians in Crete. They are to be loyal subjects of the civil government, neither gossips nor quarrelsome and showing perfect courtesy towards everyone. While all these civilised virtues seem well within human ability, they are reminded that "God has saved us, not because of any good deed we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us us by his grace." After living as good a life as we can, still it is by grace that we are saved, through Christ.
We have all been graced in various ways; indeed all life is a gift. We don't always recognize that the lifegiver is always God. But recognising it is what distinguished the Samaritan leper from the other nine who were likewise cured. All ten had all been healed of a horrible disease but only one of them returned "praising God at the top of his voice." He threw himself on his knees, realising that God had cured him through Jesus. This man had the insight to recognise God as the giver of life.
Jesus praised this leper for his insight. He didn't say, "no one has come back to thank me.." but "no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner." Then he said, "your faith has saved you."
We are called to a similar spirit of faith, recognising and thanking the Source of all the positive experiences we have met in the course of our lives. Awareness of God's grace calls forth our praise.