November 11, 2020 – Wednesday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111120.cfm)
In a conversation with a friend, he told me that he was doing some form of sacrifices because he was asking God of something, to grant his prayer intentions. This really reminds me of our usual attitude in our prayers and in the way we relate to God. We make sacrifices so that God may grant our prayers for healing, for success or for material graces that we need. We also take time to light a candle, to offer a mass intention, to say our novenas and rosaries, even visit churches and shrines, and ask the intercession of our favorite saints so that God will grant our prayers and desires.
This kind of action is also similar to that 10 lepers in today’s Gospel. They too begged Jesus. They cried out to the Lord to heal and grant them freedom from the curse they endured. Certainly, Jesus listened to them. As Jesus told them to make themselves appear before their priests, on their way, each of them was healed from leprosy and experienced freedom from the curse of that illness. However, out of ten healed lepers, only one leper came back to Jesus. This leper came back to thank and to praise the Lord. This leper may not be fully aware yet, that Jesus is Lord, but he was sure enough that God was working in Jesus.
Hence, Jesus actually wondered on what happened to the nine lepers who were all Jews like him. The leper who came back was a Samaritan, considered as a foreigner by the Jews. And Jews considered Samaritans as enemies, worthless and good for nothing. Yet, it was this enemy of the Jews, this worthless and good for nothing person who became aware not just that he was healed but also of the grace of healing. Becoming aware of the grace he received, this made the Samaritan leper to also recognize the giver of the grace. His awareness of the grace filled him with joy and gratitude. He must have been running back to Jesus out of joy to thank the Lord.
However, Jesus indeed wondered about the nine Jewish healed lepers. We would wonder and could also ask, “What could have prevented them to thank Jesus like the Samaritan?” Well, we can only suspect. The nine Jewish healed lepers might have become indignant that the Samaritan was also healed and was given the grace. For them, a Samaritan was not worthy of God’s grace because they were traitors. They might have not accepted that an enemy had been blessed and healed by God. That happy occasion of healing must have turned into bitterness. Instead that the nine should be grateful to God, their hearts turned bitter at the sight of someone whom they thought was not worthy, useless, a mere disturbance in their society, and would only bring nothing good but problems and crimes.
Thus, we should be careful on this. We might tend to think that those who always go to Church are the only ones worthy of God’s grace of mercy. We might tend to believe that our enemies, people we hate, people we don’t like are useless and insignificant. Then, this kind of attitude will only cloud our heart with hate and bitterness instead of gratitude and graciousness.
This healed leper’s action showed how grateful his faith was. Indeed, he was not just healed physically but also spiritually. Jesus told him, “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you!” This healed leper teaches us today to show our gratitude to God so that we may also become gracious.
St. Paul’s letter to Titus reminds us about this, he said, “the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we have done but because of his mercy.” And because of this, Paul urges us to “exercise all graciousness towards everyone.”
Indeed, by becoming more and more aware of God’s grace in us and in each of us, we may also grow not in bitterness but with a grateful and graceful heart. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR