Thoughts from the Early Church
Commentary by Bruno of Segni
It seems that no one has returned to give thanks to God except this stranger
“On the way to Jerusalem Jesus passed along the border between Samaria and Galilee, and when he entered one of the villages ten lepers came to meet him.” What do these ten lepers stand for if not the sum total of all sinners?
When Christ the Lord came not all men and women were leprous in body, but in soul they were, and to have a soul full of leprosy is much worse than to have a leprous body.
But let us see what happened next. “Standing a long way off they called out to him: ‘Jesus, Master, take pity on us.’” They stood a long way off because no one in their condition dared come too close. We stand a long way off too while we continue to sin.
To be really converted one must be converted inwardly. To be restored to health and cured of the leprosy of sin, we also must cry out: “Jesus, master, take pity on us.” That cry, however, must come not from our lips but from our heart, for the cry of the heart is louder: it pierces the heavens, rising up to the very throne of God.
“When Jesus saw the lepers he told them to go and show themselves to the priests.” God has only to look at people to be filled with compassion. He pitied these lepers as soon as he saw them, and sent them to the priests not to be cleansed by them, but to be pronounced clean.
“And as they went they were cleansed.” Let all sinners listen to this and try to understand it. It is easy for the Lord to forgive sins. Sinners have often been forgiven before they came to a priest. In fact, their repentance and healing occur simultaneously: at the very moment of their conversion they pass from death to life.
Let them understand, however, what this conversion means; let them heed the Lord’s words: “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
To be really converted one must be converted inwardly, in one’s heart, for “a humbled, contrite heart God will not spurn.”
“One of them, when he saw that he was cured, went back again, praising God at the top of his voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. Now this man was a Samaritan.” He stands for all those who, after their cleansing by the waters of baptism or healing by the sacrament of penance, renounce the devil and take Christ as their model, following him with praise, adoration, and thanksgiving, and nevermore abandoning his service.
“And Jesus said to him: Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.” Great, therefore, is the power of faith. Without it, as the apostle says, “it is impossible to please God. Abraham believed God and because of this God regarded him as righteous.”
Faith saves, faith justifies, faith heals both body and soul.
(On Luke’s Gospel 2, 40: PL 165, 426-428)
Bruno of Segni (d. 1123) was born near Asti in Piedmont,
At the Council of Rome (1079) he defended the Catholic doctrine of the eucharist against Berengarius. In the following year Gregory VII, his personal friend, made him bishop of Segni, but he refused a cardinalate.
Bruno was a zealous pastor, and shared in all the projects of Gregory VII for the reform of the Church. In his writings he attacked simony and lay investiture. He was the greatest scripture commentator of his age.
Longing for solitude, he received the monastic habit at Monte Cassino and in 1107 became abbot, but was later ordered by Pope Paschal II to return to his see.
**From Saint Louis University