St Thomas Aquinas’ Homily Notes on the Ten Lepers (Luke17:11-19)
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2010
Aquinas was a renowned preacher, unfortunately, very few of his actual sermons have come down to us. However, a sizable number of his sermon notes have survived the ages, though these are of varying quality. The reason for the variation is probably due to the fact that these notes were made by his students as he preached his sermons, rather than prepared by Aquinas himself as preparation for those discourses. The notes often provide excellent points for meditation or further study. Those interested in Aquinas the preacher may wish to check out these resources: A full length homily and collation from Aquinas For The Feast Of Pentecost. Wondering what a collation is? Check out this helpful essay (a pdf document) about Aquinas’ Pentecost sermon. Also check out Aquinas’ full length sermon On The Feast Of St Nicholas, and the accompanying essay (a pdf document). Finally, there is this full length sermon: Blessed Are The People Whose God Is The Lord (Sermon 7).
“There met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off.”
S. Luke xvii. 12.
THREE points are characteristically noticed in this Gospel. Firstly, the number of the sinners, “ten men.” Secondly, the remedy for their healing, “there met Him.” Thirdly, the remedies which are necessary to those who are cured of sin, “one of them when he saw that he was healed.”
To consider, now, the difference and number of the sinners it is to be noted that the ten lepers may signify ten kinds of sins.
(1) The first leper is an infidel and a heretic who is separated from the society of the faithful and the holy: “The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper …. and the children of Israel did so, and put them without the camp,” &c., Num 5:24.
(2) The second leper is a blasphemer and detractor: “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopean woman whom he had married …. and they said, Hath the Lord spoken only by Moses? Hath He not also spoken by us? And the Lord heard it. …. Wherefore, then, were ye not afraid to speak against My servant Moses? …. And Aaron looked upon Miriam, and behold she was leprous,” Num 12:1, 2, 8, 10.
(3) The third leper is gluttonous, who taints the air with fetid exhalations, proceeding from excessive repletion: “He is a leprous man, he is unclean.. . . . He shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean,” Levit 13:44, 45.
(4) The fourth leper is the avaricious man, who is ever infected with an immoderate desire of possessing: this was the leprosy of Gehazi: “Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards the leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever,” 2 Kings 5:26, 27.
(5) The fifth leper is the proud man, who with a swelling mind exalts himself against the Lord and Christ. Such was Naaman, King of Syria, and being very rich, and u also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper,” 2 Kings 5:1.
(6) The sixth leper is the ambitious man, who desired honours and dignities: such an one as Uzziah, who took upon himself the honour of High Priest: “He transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple- of the Lord to burn incense …. and while he was wroth with the priests the leprosy rose up in his forehead before the priests,” 2 Chron 26:16-20.
(7) The seventh leper is the hypocrite or vainglorious, who foolishly prides himself on his good things: such was the leprosy of Simon the Pharisee: “When Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,” S. Matt 26:6.
(8) The eighth leper is the sensual man, who contaminates creatures with the issue of his uncleannesses: “What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue, he shall not eat of the holy things until he be clean,” Levit 22:3.
(9) The ninth leper is a homicide: such as was Joab, upon whom the wrath of God came because he slew Abner: “Let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper,” 2 Sam 3:29.
(10) The tenth leper is he who is obstinate and desperate, and who finally sins: “When the plague of leprosy is in a man …. if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white …. it is an old leprosy,” Levit 13:9-11. S. Jerome observes, that he who despairs of pardon for sin is more bound -by his desperation than by the sin which he has committed. Desperation increases despair, and is a greater tyrant than any sin. He who wishes to be cured from sin’s leprosy runs to the fountain of precious blood, which the ineffable charity of our Lord Jesus Christ opened for us: Who washed us in it, and will cleanse all those who fly unto Him from the leprosy of all sin. “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood …. to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Rev 1:5, 6.