Our Lady the Sorrowful Mother.
Perhaps, she may be seen in this passage she relates to St. Luke, when her Son is on his was to his Passion, passing between Samaria and Galilee.
Perhaps, we may see her hand in all of this better, as we see this story -- (See Venerable Mary of Agreda and her Mystical City of God, "The Gospels."
The Leprosy of Poverty: A Personal Reflection on Luke 17:11-19
Ronald D. Curley
St. Anthony's Retreat
It has been truly said that no one ever cared for us like Jesus, our Blessed Savior and Lord, the only Hope of our salvation through his precious Body and Blood.
It could also be said in the same manner that no woman ever cared for us like Mary, the Mother of Jesus. For, she willingly gave up her own prerogatives and allowed herself to be completely used as the Holy Vessel in whom gestated the Body, Soul-- the Humanity of the Divine Word of God. The Word became Flesh through Mary.
Immanuel -- God became the Man, Christ Jesus through Mary.
Jesus and Mary in the truest sense cooperated in the plan of God in redemption.
Without this cooperation by her who had been prepared by the singular grace of God toward her, she who willingly gave up her own will to the Holy Trinity, there would have been no Jesus born in Bethlehem of Judea, as spoken by the prophets.
Yet, our Lord found such an obedient one in Mary and sent forth the angel Gabriel, whose name means -- "man of God," in order that true God and true Man might come into the world through the Woman, as told in Genesis 3:15-19. Holy Jesus would be born of Mary, the Woman, in the "House of Bread," (Bethlehem) in order that the "sweat of your (Adam's) face shall you get bread to eat," might be replaced with the Bread from heaven that God gave to us through Mary iun fulfilment of the prophets, (Luke 24).
Poor Adam in man and woman ("ish" and "isha") was stained by sin beyond all hope in themselves. Like poor beggar-lepers they had to be clothed with the skins of animals who suffered for their sin.
Yet, there was another story that was told by St., Dr., Luke, the blessed physician and missionary partner of St. Paul. It was the story of Jesus and the Ten Lepers. They were all healed, yet, there was one that returned with great joy and deeply thanked our Savior for his healing touch.
These ten beggar-lepers had mothers too.
They had contracted a terrible disease, the curse of sin, succumbing to the leprosy that would make them outcasts in their society -- much like the AIDS virus has done to many more in our own day to the poor souls who contracted it.
For whatever reason, the ten lepers were poor men who had little hope in the society of men, because they had been driven out of their homes and families and made into beggars, because of the fruits of this leprosy. The hideous wounds and tissue losses would drive people away in horror of the ancient sight. No treatments were known. All people seemed to fear contamination from the wounds.
They were the untouchables, the poor, the outcast -- LEPERS !
Yet, the story is remarkable here.
Jesus was passing through Samaria (the place of outcasts), and, Galilee, the area where the plain of Gennesaret and the valley of Jezreel are in the lands of Asher, Zebulon, Naphthali, and Issachar, four of the sons of Israel. It too, like the area of Samaria, had been annexed by the Assyrians in 734 B.C. until 80 B.C., when it was conquered by Alexander Jannaeus. Yet, during 27-30 A.D., it was the main focus of the ministry of our Lord Jesus.
So, here are ten beggar-lepers, and Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and the Cross, and another Mother, Mary (probably), now relates this story to St. Luke.
It is the story of her Son, Jesus, who now on the way to Jerusalem to be crucified, now has the time to touch ten poor beggar-lepers.
There was a Passionist priest, a saint, who lived from 1838-1862. He is the patron saint of clerics and youth. He was Gabriel Possenti of Assisi, Italy, from the home of St. Francis of Assisi, who lived a life of evangelical poverty for others. Gabriel Possenti took the name of, "Brother Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother," upon entering the Order of the Passionists and lived a life for Jesus, for he was committed to the Passion of Jesus. He died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four. He is -- St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother, (Feast day February 27).
I bring his name up, because here we have many sorrowful mothers in this story who are not mentioned by Luke and Mary.
We have the sorrow of those mothers of the ten lepers, who were forced by circumstances in life to go about in dirty rags and beg for their food and needs.
But, then, we have the unmentioned Sorrowful Mother of all of the mothers of the sons who went about begging, the Mother of Jesus, Mary.
Then, also, we have the Passion of Jesus for the souls of these poverty stricken beggar-lepers.
They are noticed by Luke, because they were noticed by Mary, who knew the Sacred Heart of her Son Jesus
They "happened" along the path of Jesus who was going to his Passion, beloved of God.
How striking it is to sense that the Passion of Jesus, relayed by our Sorrowful Mother, is focused toward the poor beggar-lepers that "happened" in his path to Jerusalem where Jesus, her Son would be crucified and the sword would pierce her heart. These were the sons of sorrowful mothers as well.
How deep was their sense of sin and rejection.
Yet, when they were healed -- only one son returned with greatest joy, falling at the feet of Jesus, the One who touched the leper with his very words, would return to express his gratitude. What was the gratitude of his mom?
Luke 17:11-19 tells us --
11 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him
13 and raised their voice, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"
There is a poverty in leprosy and a leprosy in poverty. The world has other ideas about how poor lepers should be treated.
The poor will be shunned and be mocked and taunted that it is their own fault, and, it is their station in life. "I want nothing to do with the poor, the lepers in my way. I am on the way to do a greater work than it is worth my time to involve my self in with them." Are these not echos of the Church at Laodicea that does not recognize its own poverty and putrid wounds? (Revelation 3:17).
Yet, these beggar-lepers cry out to all.
"Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!". . ."Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!". . ."Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"
Jesus takes time from his own Passion and heals them.
The Son of Mary's womb, Incarnate God -- takes time to be with poor lepers.
14 And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.
The deeper the sin, the deeper is the responsive love.
The greater the sorrowful pain, the greater are the joyful consolations.
Is it any wonder that Jesus glorified his Mother, because of her sorrows? (Rev. 12:1,2).
How Jesus identifies with all, yet, all do not so deeply identify with Jesus?
Yet, the worst social outcast fell at the feet of Jesus, and thanked him.
17 Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?
18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"
19 Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."
Are you a poor leper?
Are you an outcast?
Is your sin one that cries up to heaven?
Is there sorrow with your mother for the sin of life within and without and around you?
Jesus heals the poor leper, as he goes to his Passion in Jerusalem for you and me.
Yet, there is a deeper meaning as well.
Are you poor?
Are you an outcast, considered as useless by society, and a sad condition of a human being, that has been eaten away like the leper is by the bacteria of a world system that deadens his nerve endings and slowly consumes his/her goods like the useless flesh that falls from good flesh?
Do your cries go up to heaven for understanding when there is none, and the God you love with all your heart, you feel is unapproachable, because of your poverty? Do you back off and stand afar from Jesus, because you feel unworthy?
Is your mother sorrowful, too, because you do not possess "successes" in this world?
Jesus heals the poor in spirit, as he goes to his Passion is Jerusalem, beloved of Jesus.
Jesus reaches out and touches what he heals.
I think I see his Mother, too, beckoning me with her to that place prepared of God for her -- in the wilderness, as we await with our brothers and sisters the glorious "parousia" of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
Deus et Sanctissima.