Your faith has saved you

This Sunday is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we engaged the meaning of the word sozo with its basic meaning, “to rescue from danger and to restore to a former state of safety and well being.” It was part of Jesus words “Stand up and go; your faith has saved [sozo] you” (v.19).

Green (The Gospel of Luke, 627) writes about the declaration, “your faith has saved you”:

Here, something more than healing must be intended, since (1) the efficacy of faith is mentioned and (2) all ten lepers experienced cleansing. The Samaritan was not only cleansed, but on account of faith gained something more – namely, insight into Jesus’ role in the inbreaking kingdom. He is enabled to see and is thus enlightened, itself a metaphor for redemption.

The Samaritan was enabled to see the Messiah and so “returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Bishop Robert Barron put it another way:

Christianity is, above all, a way of seeing. Everything else in Christian life flows from and circles around the transformation of vision. Christians see differently, and that is why their prayer, their worship, the action, their whole way of being in the world, as a distinctive accent and flavor. What unites figures as diverse as James Joyce, Caravaggio, John Milton, the architect of Chartres, Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the later Bob Dylan is a peculiar and distinctive take on things, a style, a way, which flows finally from Jesus of Nazareth.

Origen of Alexandria once remarked that holiness is seeing with the eyes of Christ. Teilhard de Chardin said with great passion that his mission as a Christian thinker was to help people see, and Thomas Aquinas said that the ultimate goal of the Christian life is a “beatific vision,” an act of seeing.

Perhaps this encounter on the road to Jerusalem relates the typical pattern of God’s activities throughout scriptures – namely, God acts first.  For example, God did not tell the Israelites in Egypt, “If you only had enough faith, I would lead you to the promised land.” God led them out of slavery to Canaan.

God did not tell us, “If you only had enough faith, I would send Jesus to suffer and die for your sins.” It was because we had no faith that he sent us Jesus. As Paul writes in Romans 5:8: “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” God doesn’t wait for us to have enough faith. God acts first. Then our proper response to God’s actions is praise and thanksgiving because we have accepted the gift of seeing God’s hand in what has happened.

In a small way, this encounter highlights a recurring theme in Luke. The story foreshadows Paul’s final words in Acts, citing Isaiah 69-10, addressing the faith of foreigners and the blindness of Israel: “25 … Paul made one final statement. ‘Well did the holy Spirit speak to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, saying: 26 ‘Go to this people and say: You shall indeed hear but not understand. You shall indeed look but never see. 27 Gross is the heart of this people; they will not hear with their ears; they have closed their eyes, so they may not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.’ ” (Acts 28:25-27). Paul’s final words reflect a major concern of Luke’s writings: how the salvation promised in the Old Testament, accomplished by Jesus, and offered first to Israel (Acts 13:26), has now been offered to and accepted by the Gentiles.

Source: Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1997) pp. 615-27

Image credit: CodexAureus Cleansing of the ten lepers, Public Domain, Wikimedia

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