Sometime ago Gaye and I were in a shopping centre. We were walking and holding hands. Out of the blue a lady came up to us and said, “That is so lovely, what a lovely couple. Thank you.” And walked on.
She was wearing a hijab. Her smile and joy filled the space and covered us.
We stopped and looked at each other and, almost, if we had known about it then said, “Now, that’s different”. It was unexpected and it came from someone we did not know and did not expect such a compliment from.
Today’s Gospel is another “Now, that’s different” moment.
Jesus is surprised by the response from those he heals and doubly surprised by the one who comes back to thank him and to praise God. It wasn’t whom people expected. Perhaps it wasn’t whom Jesus expected. He was a Samaritan, a minority in the 10 lepers and a foreigner in his own country.
He came back and said thanks. Like our Muslim ‘friend’, he noticed the beauty and wonder in life, responding simply for the joy of it. He came back because he had no other choice. He simply had to acknowledge what had happened.
It was different for those watching and it is to them that Jesus points out the nuances of what has happened. It is so easily missed. We can miss it everyday because we have a preconceived idea of who will comment and who say thanks.
Sadly our preconceived ideas do not include a woman in a hijab or a man from Samaria..