Remind them 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.
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 men who were cured missed a golden chance, when they failed to say thanks. Jesus tells the one man who did come back to thank him, "Your faith has saved you." We need a faith like this, to recognise our dependency on God for life and its blessings, including the help we get from others towards eternal life. By faith God enables us to put our best self to the service of life, and so to give praise to our Maker. The Samaritan who threw himself at Jesus' feet is told, "Stand up and go on your way." He goes his way, no longer forbidden to live with others, no longer ostracized as unclean, resuming life as it ought to be, blessed with good health and gratitude.
Alongside this positive note comes a sad commentary on human life. "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 it was their sudden return to good health that distracted the other nine so that they failed in the normal courtesy of returning to thank Jesus for their cure.
Titus gets from Paul a list of practical instructions for the Christians in Crete: to be loyally subject to civil government; not to be slanderous or quarrelsome; to display perfect courtesy towards everyone. All these virtues seem within our normal ability, yet Paul ends by stating, "God has saved us, not because of any good deed we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us and justified us by his grace." No virtue is possible without God's Spirit given us through Jesus Christ.
We have all been graced in various ways; we have all received a great deal as a gift. We don't always recognize that the ultimate source of all these graces and gifts is God. That is what distinguished the Samaritan leper from the other nine in today's gospel. All ten were equally graced; they had all been healed by Jesus of a disease that left them only half-alive. Yet, it is said of only one of them that, finding himself cured, he "turned back praising God at the top of his voice." He threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him because he recognized that God was working through Jesus. He thanked Jesus, but he praised God. He had the insight to see that God was at work in his healing.
Jesus praised this leper for his insight. He didn't say, "nobody has come back to thank me, except this foreigner," but "no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner." Then Jesus goes on to say to him, "your faith has saved." This leper had the vision of faith; he recognized God at work in the good that had happened to him, in the extraordinary way he had been graced. We are called to that same vision of faith; to recognize and to acknowledge God at work in all those experiences of grace that bless us in the course of our lives. God's grace calls forth our praise.