October 13, 2019 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Andy Upah

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 KGS 5:14-17

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

  1. (cf. 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Reading 2 2 TM 2:8-13

Alleluia 1 THES 5:18

In all circumstances, give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Gospel LK 17:11-19

Homily for Nativity on the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

   In our old Testament reading and in the Gospel we hear of lepers being healed.  Leprosy, at that time, was a death sentence and it forced people into isolated colonies so that others would not contract the disease, so they could no longer worship with their community or do anything with their families and friends.  

   So these healings were a pretty big deal to these people with leprosy, it was basically giving them their lives back again.

   In the Old Testament, Naaman was so thankful he wanted to give a gift to the profit who had commanded him to plunge into the Jordan.  Ultimately he realized it was God who did the healing because he said: "I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the LORD."

   In the Gospel, only one returned and he glorified God in a loud voice, but we can be sure the other nine were also thankful.  It can be easy for us to judge the other nine, why didn’t they return?  Why didn’t they show their gratitude?

   Here’s the deal… we don’t have enough of the story to really judge them, (what happened on the path, what happened after they visited the priests,) the key is that they had faith and did as they were commanded.  

   See, these lepers were 25 miles from Jerusalem at the least, maybe as much as 100 miles away, we don’t know exactly where Jesus encountered them.

   But let’s just say it was 25 miles, that’s like walking from here to Dyersville, okay? That is an amazing amount of faith when Jesus said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” They just got up and went on faith to the priests which would have been in the temple in Jerusalem.  

   They had to go show themselves to the priests to prove that they were healed so they could return to their family and friends and worship in community again.  

   The Priests were the ones that had to allow them back, but when they set out for Jerusalem, none of them were healed, so they were taking it on faith that they would be healed, otherwise the priests would have just kicked them out and sent them walking back 25 miles or more. 

   So it was a huge act of faith for them just to set out on this journey. Now, the foreigner, a Samaritan, the one that returned, he wouldn’t have been traveling to Jerusalem, his temple and the priest that was responsible for him would have been somewhere else in his homeland, so at some point he was going to break from the group.

   It is quite possible that he had already broken off the path from them when he was healed, and he was the only one that returned, yes, but the other nine were still doing what Jesus told them to, so no judgment there on their level of gratitude, we just know that they had faith and did what they were commanded and only the Samaritan returned to give thanks at that time.

   Do we remember to go back and say thanks for what we have been given? This story is a great reminder of the importance of showing gratitude. Obviously Luke and the Apostles felt better about the Samaritan who returned to say thanks, or they wouldn't have made such a big deal about him in this Gospel story.  

   From our own experience of giving gifts, we don't always hear the words, “thank you,” we might know that the recipient is thankful, but it is always nice to hear those words, and I believe God feels the same way.  Parents probably especially know how that feels, to not always hear thank you for all that they do for their children.

   Our Psalm said, “The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.” Has the Lord revealed to you his saving power?  My guess is yes, maybe personally or maybe you’ve seen someone else healed.  Maybe not physically, but maybe spiritually.  If you are here today giving thanks, my bet is the Lord has revealed his saving power to you in some way at some point in your life.

   See, at some point, I believe, we have to make a decision to not worship other gods and worship the Lord alone, like Naaman did.  Quite often this is after we are healed, I know that was true in my life.  

   After I was spiritually healed, I resolved to worship the Lord alone, which meant putting him first and returning every week to give him thanks here at Mass, even when I was on vacation, not putting the football gods or sleep gods or other gods ahead of Him.

   But if we haven’t been healed personally, there is another way, which is seeing other people healed.  This also resonated in my life, specifically through Marian apparitions, like Lourdes and Fatima.  Tomorrow (Today) is the 102nd anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima where 70,000 people witnessed the predicted phenomena.

   At both Fatima and Lourdes especially, there were many miraculous healings that were well documented. If you ever have a chance to visit there, you’ll see the wall of the church lined with crutches and canes and braces of every type from people who were healed and left them there because they no longer needed them. 

   When I learned about these Marian apparitions and others, it had a profound impact on my life, where I realized God was still very active in the world through Mary, and I began to pray like never before.

   I mean, isn’t that what we all want, to know, without a doubt, that God is still active in the world, and more importantly in our lives?  That’s what these Marian apparitions did for me, that’s what these healings did for myself and for the Naaman and for the Samaritan.

   And now we give thanks to God.  Interestingly, the word that Jesus uses to describe the “thanks” that the Samaritan gave him is “Eucharistia” in Greek.  Our word for Communion, Eucharist, derives from this Eucharistia which means, “To Give Thanks.”  

   Jesus still heals us today from our physical and spiritual ailments through the grace we receive from the Eucharist and that is worthy of our thanks, for sure.

   After communion, when it is quiet and I am purifying the vessels back at the credence table, that is the perfect time to give thanks to God for the gifts we have received, first and foremost for saving us through giving his body and blood for us, and secondly for all of the blessings that we have received in the past week.

   That is why we return here at the start of every week.  Through our faith we have been healed.  We have seen others healed through their faith.  We realize God is still active in our world and in our lives. So we fall down on our knees to give Him thanks and praise, as He asks us to do, “do this, (give thanks,) in memory of me.”

   May God continue to heal us and strengthen our faith, as we praise Him and thank Him for showing us His saving power.