Ti 3:1-7; Ps 23:1-6; Lk 17:11-19 : This is the deepest desire of every soul. We long to dwell in the house of the LORD. When anyone comes along and threatens our peaceful dwelling with the LORD, we resist with great strength. Like a good shepherd, we must walk into the dark valley of our own lives without fear. We have the LORD’s own rod and staff to give us courage. We can find constant strength and protection from the Good Shepherd who welcomes us at table and anoints our heads with oil. Saint Paul instructs the good shepherd, Saint Titus, to take heart and live in trust. Bishop Titus was a peaceable man who exercised all graciousness to everyone, even those who stood up against him. The Lord Jesus asks a painful question of his disciples, “Where are the other nine?” This question demands deep searching and ruthless honesty if we are to be truly grateful for his healing the leprosy of our sin and thankful for the unity he has poured out upon us in the Holy Spirit.
The beloved Saint Titus was instructed by this Letter from Saint Paul to teach his church respect for authority, civil and church. The believer is to be obedient and open to all the ways it is possible to cooperate with the local authorities to the benefit of the common good. Loving churchgoers are never to slander, never to spread lies about a brother or sister. In the life of Saint Josaphat his own flock not only spread lies they stirred up hatred for the good bishop. No matter how such rumors and fears arise the faithful believer has no time for such nonsense. It is foolish, disobedient, and delusional to spread slander about the bishop or any servant of the LORD. No doubt there were some well-founded rumors about how Western authorities in the church treated Easter authorities in the same church. However, nothing can justify the ongoing and deadly division in the Body of Christ. Who can believe the good news if we cannot believe and live the message we proclaim? The kindness and generous love of God, our savior has appeared. The Holy Spirit has given us the bath of rebirth and renewal. What don’t we understand about the necessity for unity among all brothers and sisters in Christ? Indeed, there may have been understandable reasons for the original split between East and West. However, those reasons do not justify the continue scandal of our mutual excommunication, our lack of unity weakens, or even jeopardizes our proclamation.
The Lord Jesus is on his journey to Jerusalem. He deliberately travels though the foreign lands, of Samaria and Galilee. There the Lord encounters ten lepers, who kept their lawful distance. They cried out nevertheless, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” This cry for assistance captured the heart of the Lord Jesus, and in his compassion he healed all ten lepers. On the way to receive the approval of the priests, one of the lepers was moved to gratitude and returned to the Lord glorifying God at the feet of the Lord Jesus. His disciples were asked, “Where are the other nine?” Only the hated foreigner has enough self-respect to return to the Lord Jesus. The Lord then makes of this foreigner a model of gratitude for all who have received healing from the Good Shepherd of our souls. It’s like saying to us, has none but this Terrorist returned to give thanks to God? This is how well hated the Samaritans had become to the Jews, even the disciples of the Lord Jesus. We too have been healed; indeed the entire church is a fellowship of the healed. What excuse do we have for not standing up and going our way because our faith has saved us, and we must spread the good news of that faith everywhere we come and go? There may be some excuses, but none of them work.