HOMILY FOR THE 28TH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME. OCTOBER 13, 2019.
First reading: 2 Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98:1bcde,2-3ab,3cd-4; Second reading: 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Gospel: Luke 17:11-19
Faith is lived with joyous gratitude, not slavelike duty.– Pope Francis
My dearest Children of God, I welcome you into the healing presence of God in this moment of divine encounter on this 27th Sunday. May we receive our healing and salvation in Christ through His words and the Eucharist. The readings of today give us an assurance of the healing mercy of God and remind us that the gifts we receive from God should bring us to a deeper faith and salvation in Him.
Religious experiences and encounters happen to people in a variety of ways bringing them into a deeper experience of the divine. This subjective experience may come in the form of miraculous healing or ordinarily in the form of a prayer answered at an unexpected time. God has various ways of communicating His presence to people, to bring them to a deeper knowledge and faith in Him.
In the first reading, Naaman the Syrian commander was healed of his leprosy after plunging himself seven times at the river Jordan as he was instructed by the prophet Elisha. That religious experience brought him to a deeper faith when he exclaimed, ” Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel “. In spite of Naaman’s persuasion to offer a gift in thanksgiving to the Prophet Elisha, Elisha refused. This emphasizes the fact that God’s gift is gratuitous and Elisha’s refusal proves that he was not the healer, but God himself is. God expects nothing in return for His gifts than a deeper faith expressed in friendship with Him. It has to be noted that Elisha’s refusal of Naaman’s gifts is a great example to modern pastors who emphasize money and material gifts. A priest once asked a woman who just gave birth after years of childlessness, what is still keeping her and her husband from coming for thanksgiving in church. This is ridiculous. Does he need to remind them to come for Thanksgiving? but that’s to tell you where his interest lies. While I encourage people to show gratitude to God by way of material gifts in church, it should not be misconstrued as ‘paying back to God’ or should it become a burden on whomever; what is more important is allowing experience of the miracle to deepen your faith in God. 10 cows for thanksgiving in church, will not do you any good if your faith is not deepened by that miracle you received.
In the gospel, the attitude of many Christians today is demonstrated in the case of the ten lepers who were healed by Christ. Nine of them who were cured, went off, perhaps, to celebrate, but only one person(the Samaritan) went back to glorify God and to say thanks to Jesus. When Jesus asks: “Were there not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?” Is He not expecting them to come back to Him to glorify him like the Samaritan? The Samaritan received the gift of salvation when Christ says to him: “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.” Jesus addresses the same phrase to the woman at the anointing (7:50), the haemorrhaging woman (8:48), and the blind beggar (18:42). This pericope hints at the fact that Jesus offers this leper more than others. They received healing, but this Samaritan receives deeper salvation in addition. His faith has prompted him to return to the feet of Jesus in thanks, and that personal contact, that personal submission signifies a soul healing that is more than skin deep. We must train ourselves to show thanks, to give thanks, to be filled with thanksgiving. Without being thankful disciples, we won’t be pleasing to Jesus. A life of thanksgiving is a life of Prayer.
“ Gratitude is a characteristic trait of the heart visited by the Holy Spirit; to obey God we must first remember his benefits .”–Pope Francis
Ingratitude diminishes the flow of divine favors . Our ingratitude to God consists not in our failure to offer material gifts in thanksgiving for our healing but in our indifference to Him after we received our miracle. As humans, we appreciate it greatly when a person comes back to us to say thanks for favors he/she received. But what is even more important is that the person becomes friends with us. So, friendship with God is the greatest gratitude that we can show to God for His favors and healing. If you have ever been sick and recovered then you too are indebted to God. No one can claim not to have received anything from God. If we who have received so much would reciprocate by being friends with God and being faithful to Him, the world would be a better place for us.
The lepers have called out loudly to ask for mercy, but only one leper offers loud thanksgiving and praise. Would that our thanksgiving was as loud as our clamouring requests!. This is exactly what we do. We sleep in the Church, go for adorations, fast for days and weeks, pray down heaven. But Once God grants our requests, we hardly pray again. This is really not fair to God. It looks like we use Him and dump Him; using Him as means to an end, instead of the end itself.
Another lesson we can also draw from this pericope is that the faith that healed the lepers was by acting on Jesus’ words just as Naaman obeyed and acted on Elisha’s instruction. Jesus said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests,” implying that they were healed. If they had done a quick physical check to see if they were healed before they headed off to the priests’ village they never would have started. The healing didn’t take place until AFTER they obeyed. We sometimes want instantaneous healing before we’ll believe that Jesus heals us. But the faith here is shown in the going. “Your faith has made you well” (17:19b).
We pray in this Mass, that God may give us the grace to be grateful to Him for the favors we receive from Him. And that these favors may shape our lives, strengthen our faith, deepen our relationship with him and earn us the salvation in he end.
Prayer: Teach me Lord to be grateful for the air I breath; for the sun that shines in the day; for the food on my table; for the water I drink; for all that You do for me known and unknown. Teach me above all to love and be faithful to you. Amen
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
Clem C. Aladi