Today we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving, thanking God for giving us harvest, this season when ripened crops are gathered in. We think of farming and all the bountiful food we have to eat but there is also a spiritual harvest in ourselves that bears fruit. These are love, joy, peace, generosity, kindness, patience, goodness, faithfulness and self control. These attitudes grow in us as we move forward in our Christian lives through prayer, reading Scripture and obeying Jesus’ commandment to love God and love others as ourselves. God requires us to both give to Him by putting Him first in our lives and receive from Him by being in close relationship with him through prayer. Jesus gave much and received much. He graciously accepted many gifts including having his aching feet massaged with very expensive oil, sharing the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary and loaves and fishes from a boy.
In our Gospel Reading Jesus heals 10 lepers who ask for healing. Only one, a foreigner, thanks him. Lepers had to keep social distance, rather like our Corona virus situation! They were seen as unclean and so were cast outside their families and villages. However, we are all unclean in our human state. It is only when we see our selfishness, repent and are redeemed in the blood of Christ by faith that we are washed whiter than snow.
We are all lepers and like them need healing. Like them we ask for the compassion and mercy of God freely given. In our Bible Study this week we looked at the story of King David and Bathsheba. David lusted after Bathsheba, wife of one of his Army Captains, slept with her and when she became pregnant, instigated her husband’s death. Later, after the death of their newborn son David’s eyes were opened to how he had violated God’s way for his life, he deeply repented and went forward in obedience to God.
Jesus told the lepers to go and show themselves to the priest. In order to see the priest they would need to be healed of leprosy. However their healing had not yet happened when they started walking towards the temple. They stepped out in faith, believing that they would be healed and their healing happened on the journey. We are often called to trust and obey and step out in faith.
All ten were healed physically but only one man came back to thank Jesus. He was not only healed physically from leprosy but healed spiritually through his thanksgiving conversation with Jesus and given eternal life in God’s kingdom.
Not all who ask are healed physically but spiritual healing happens when we give our lives over to God. We are given divine strength not only to live with our conditions, but to live fully. This is possible because God is alongside us in our lives, including our pain. Through prayer his spirit encourages and sustains us through all adversity. Then Fruits of the Spirit grow in us and this harvest of ourselves is seen and encourages others and really is something to be thankful for. The more thankful we are the more joy we find and the more fruitful our lives and the lives of those around us become.
As St Paul tells the Church in Corinth: ‘others will praise God for your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you.’