Thinking Anew – Let the good stories stand out
“So often we reject or dismiss the wonder and beauty right in front of our eyes.” Photograph: iStock
The parable of the Ten Lepers is one of those stories that every child heard in school, or at least, so was the case when I was young. Maybe such stories are a foreign language, a foreign land to children today. St Luke tells the story so well: “On his way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity of us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.‘ Now as they were going away they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:11 -14)
But only one came back to thank Jesus for this miracle of healing. And he was a foreigner, a Samaritan. He threw himself on the ground before Jesus, praising God in a loud voice. The other nine couldn’t be bothered. Jesus praised him and sent him on his way. Scripture scholars will point out that it was a Samaritan who had the grace, yes, the faith to say thank you. Samaritans were considered to be outsiders.
Like all great literature that passes down through the generations, there are many layers to this parable. It tells a universal tale.
But this also is the transformative Word of God. And God’s words tell fabulous stories, stories that inspire and enliven us.
It is a great pity that the Bible is for so many people a closed book.
People often stand back in wonder, especially if they have seen some illness or tragedy in their family or circle of friends and ask if we really ever appreciate our good fortune.
There is a Norwegian saying that goes: if you want to find fault look in a mirror rather than through binoculars. Great advice to those of us who find it so easy to criticise the world about us.
If only we could see and appreciate all that is good and great within our own orbit of living.
Anyone who works with ill people, people who have lost limbs, people who have been struck down with serious illness, learns very quickly how easy it is to take our good health for granted.
And so it is with everything in our lives. Maybe it is more pronounced in our capitalist society, a society that so easily dismisses or ignores the simple, everyday aspects of our lives. So often we reject or dismiss the wonder and beauty right in front of our eyes and run off chasing rainbows. Is it possible to argue that modern tourism has become some sort of frenetic chasing around the world, while we seem to forget or dismiss the beauty of our own place?
Have you ever noticed how people who are ill and those who care for them can be so positive and upbeat about their situation? And how our perspectives change. Last week I found myself talking to an elderly woman who was being discharged that day from hospital. Her daughter had come to collect her and they had a relatively long car journey ahead of them. She was so delighted that she was going home and looking forward to the journey ahead. Our conversation lasted about five minutes and I can still see her shining eyes as she was being discharged from hospital. But what she and her daughter will never know is how our conversation reminded me of a delightful car journey I made 50 years ago and I can still remember every detail of it.
The parables and stories of Jesus offer us an extraordinary insight into our lives. Their universal application is obvious. The story of the Ten Lepers offers so much to think about. We are told of the joy of the man who said thank you and we have no idea of the story of the other nine who couldn’t even be bothered to say thank you to Jesus.
And that in itself tells us a story. Let the good stories stand out, they are the memorable ones, the ones worth talking about.