Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, passing through Samaria and Galilee, allowed him to encounter different kinds of people with various diseases. It was highlighted by the ten lepers who approached him from a distance and asked him to have pity on them. However, Jesus told them to show themselves to the priest rather without touching them for healing. Then, as the ten lepers went on their way, they found that they were all cured. It was their faith that healed them. This is somehow parallel to the healing of the paralytic in Luke (Chapter 5:20) as Jesus told him “your sin is forgiven.” Similarly, no laying of hands, touching or praying. The paralytic just stood up and walk. Both the ten lepers and the paralytic testifies that Jesus is truly the source of life and the life giver.
The focus of our life’s journey is not just about reaching the point of our destination, it is not just about how fast we move to reach our goal in life, and it is not just about a race to the finish line. It is all about “mercy” in encountering different kinds of people in our day-to-day living. During our own journey and experience in life, to how many people in need have we extended our help? Did we just ignore them and continue with our life’s journey or simply not bothered with them? Or sometimes do we find ourselves walking on the same side of the road like the Priest and the Levite who avoided the wounded Samaritan lying half-dead on the road?
Our life is so full of obscurity that we cannot hear the subtle voice of God, and at other times we are fully occupied by so many things that we cannot understand the need of other people around us. Oftentimes we just ignore them because they are a distraction to our work, ministry or sometimes an obstruction to our academic achievement. The moment we fill our head with various activities and achievement, is also the moment we become unconscious and insensitive to the need of others around us. We become consumed with being the centre of attention and we long for praises when it comes to our achievements. The more we would like to achieve our goal, the more we overload ourselves, and the more we experience imbalance in our lives and are unable to meet the needs of the people around us.
Jesus’ consciousness towards others during his journey is a sign of mercy and compassion. Jesus knows and sees through his own eyes the need of others, their sufferings and agony. Jesus did not ask what the ten lepers wanted but Jesus’ consciousness and sensitivity toward the ten lepers made him aware of what to do and what to say to heal them. Likewise, our own consciousness and sensitivity will make us aware of showing our empathy towards others even strangers whom we encounter outside. The empathy we can practice in our daily lives is a relatively simple process but it constitutes mercy in many ways. Mercy means being generous to others rather than being stingy, mercy means being a good companion rather than an opponent, mercy means being a helper rather than an achiever for own selves, mercy means being aware rather than ignorant of the need of others.
The gospel reminds us that awareness leads us to sensitivity and mercy just like Jesus being consciously aware of everything even though it was difficult for him to trod upon the road on his journey to Jerusalem. We too are being called and challenged to imitate the awareness of Jesus, his sensitivity, his mercy and his compassion to listen to the voices of the people who are in dire need.