Readings for the 21st Sunday after Pentecost
Luke 17:11-19; 2 Timothy 2:1-13; Ruth 1:1-19a
Bring up the subject of borders these days and it is near certain to create a strong reaction. There are fears over what threats may lie just beyond our borders. There is often deep resentment and suspicion between those living and working on both sides. Most of us, I suspect, wouldn’t care to go anywhere near our borderlands. But Jesus goes there without reservation, bringing mercy and salvation, and eliciting faith in the most unexpected of people. Punchline: God’s love doesn’t recognize borders.
In his healing of the ten lepers, Jesus crosses the boundaries of culture, religion, and basic public health. The one man in ten who returns to thank him is a foreigner (Lk 17).
The Old Testament reading for Sunday tells the story of another faith-filled foreigner – Ruth, the Moabite. Leaving behind the gods of her youth and the security of extended family, she clings to her mother-in-law Naomi and – more significantly – to Naomi’s God, the LORD Almighty (Ruth 1).
Paul encourages the young pastor Timothy not to stray from the true Gospel of Jesus as it was taught to him. Paul does this by way of three metaphors – a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. Paul may be chained up in prison at this point, but the Word of God is not bound (2 Tim 2).