October 13, 2019 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Indigenous People’s and Extreme Poverty Sunday***
***Today’s celebration invites us that the Lord is ever present with our brothers and sisters who may appear different from the majority. The connectedness and intimate relationship of the indigenous peoples with the creation reminds of our basic relationship with the Creator to whom we should be grateful. The poorest of the poor that despite their poverty are the most generous people. They too express their deep gratitude to God, the giver of everything.
A reading from the Second Book of Kings (5:14-17)
Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of Elisha, the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child,
and he was clean of his leprosy.
Naaman returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.
On his arrival he stood before Elisha and said,
“Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
except in Israel.
Please accept a gift from your servant.”
Elisha replied, “As the LORD lives whom I serve, I will not take it;”
and despite Naaman’s urging, he still refused.
Naaman said: “If you will not accept,
please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth,
for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice
to any other god except to the LORD.
A reading from the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy (2:8-13)
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:
such is my gospel, for which I am suffering,
even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained.
Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen,
so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus,
together with eternal glory.
This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (17:11-19)
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”
In the course of our life, we have been asking many things from God. We make sacrifices so that God may grant our prayers for healing, for success or for material graces that we need. We take time to light a candle, to make a mass intention, say our novenas and rosaries, even visit churches and shrines, and touch every statue of a saint so that God will grant our prayers and desires.
We are not far from the experience of the ten lepers who begged Jesus to heal them. They took the time to cry out loud to Jesus and expressed their desire to be healed. Indeed, Jesus heard them. When they were on their way to present themselves to their priests, they were healed, but only one came back, a Samaritan, to praise God and give thanks to Jesus. Jesus wondered on what happened to the nine.
In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us to show explicitly our gratitude to God. God’s generosity is endless yet our memory can sometimes become very short. We always remember to ask, but we tend to forget to give thanks. This is what happened to the nine lepers. They were healed and have been a recipient of God’s healing. However, the nine of them were not able to remember the God who brought healing to them. They became too focused on themselves and on the gift of healing that they have received. And so, they forgot about the Giver. They have become ungrateful.
Nonetheless, one leper who was a foreigner remembered the Giver. When he realized that he was healed, he rejoiced and remembered the Lord. That is why, he came back to praise God and thank Jesus. He might have not realized yet that Jesus was God but he was sure that God was at work in Jesus.
This healed leper’s act showed how grateful his faith was. He was not just healed physically but also spiritually. This healed leper teaches us today to show our gratitude to God. And the challenge lies here in giving thanks to God.
This is what we find also in the story of a Syrian leper in the Second Book of Kings, named Naaman. This foreigner, a stranger was also healed from his leprosy through the prophet Elisha. Naaman, despite being a stranger, recognized the power of God. His healing experience moved him to be grateful to Elisha and to God. In fact, Naaman wanted to offer a gift not out of obligation but out of gratitude. Hence, the gratitude felt by Naaman and by expressing it changed his life by becoming a believer of God.
Himself and the Samaritan leper became more alive as they have encountered God.
Moreover, to thank and praise God is time and energy-consuming. Remember, the Samaritan leper came back to Jesus as Naaman also returned to Elisha. Thus, when we thank God, sometimes it requires us to go out of our way, to stop from what we are doing at the moment or to delay our important appointments with others in order to say thank you to the Lord.
A life filled with gratitude to God is indeed a life of prayer. Just like the healed leper, it will lead us to bow in humility to God, to pray to Him. Hence, before we go out from our room and start our day filled with activities,
pray first and thank God;
before we do the things for our family, pray first;
before we go to work, pray first;
before you leave home, pray first;
before you enjoy a good meal, pray first;
before you end the day and go to bed, pray first and say a big thank you to the Lord who has been so good and generous to us.
Please take the time today to express your gratitude to God and to all the people who are there for you to be able to express also the joy within us. In this way, we may become more conscious of the Giver of gifts who remain faithful to us even despite our ungratefulness and unfaithfulness. Hinuat pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR