Homily 28th Sunday of Year C: Fr. Michael U Udoekpo
Readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17; Ps 98:1, 2-4; 2 Tim 2:8-13 and Luke 17:11-19
Remembering withGratitude Makes us Whole
In all three readings of today, it is the theme of remembering with gratitude to God that binds them together.
In the first reading of today we have the story of Naaman the leper. God has cured him through the prophet Elisha. Naaman returns to God and Elisha with a sense remembrance and gratitude (2 kings 5:14-17).
In the Gospel reading of today there is a unique story of Jesus curing lepers, on his way to the Cross in Jerusalem, started as far back as Chapter 9. Jesus is quite busy on this journey. He called the disciples, and reproached the less compassionate priests/Levites (Luke 10). He taught the disciples how to pray, unite, forgive and care for one another. He also healed many, including the lepers in today’s Gospel (Luke 17).
With the gift of faith, out of the 10 lepers healed, only one remembered to return to give thank to the Lord. And he was a Samaritan, a foreigner whose community was always in tension with the Judeans, but not Jesus. Jesus of course would prefer the poor, right from the time the Spirit of the Lord was upon him in Luke chapter 4. He prefers those in prison, those on the margin, those discriminated and segregated upon. He prefers inclusivism like that episode of him with the Samaritan woman (John 4). He prefers those who are humble and compassionate, the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). Jesus prefers to build bridges than to burn bridges.
Among the ten cured by Jesus it is interesting to see how the 9 other lepers accepted the 1 Samaritan leper among them. Pains and suffering must have united them. But after the healing where are there? Just as Jesus would have asked,” Ten were cleansed where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (v17).
I think, the point here is that unless remembering with gratitude is a part of our nature, we cannot be whole people. The other nine were merely healed. If ingratitude is more deadly and unsaved, than leprosy, they were in worse shape than before. Only one came back and was made whole and saved, when Jesus said to him “stand up and go, your faith has saved you.”
We owe our parents gratitude, our grand parents, our founder fathers and mothers in faith. We owe our teachers, mentors and friends, spouses, fellow traveler, gratitude. Those who have played a role in our lives, we owe them gratitude! What about our men and women in uniform, those who promote peace, and foster reconciliation!
I was listening to the CNN the other day. I was impressed by a Lady who lamented over lack of prayers and religious education in some schools and public places today. Empathy, Sympathy, and good virtues, including how to say “Thank You,” are taught. With no religion and ethics, in some public places, and even homes our new generations are loosing the sense of Gratitude to God, and to one another.
Truly no one has it all. What ever state we are (married or celibate, middle class or upper class) we have to learn to be grateful to God. As stated in Paul’s 2 Letter to Timothy today, we do not want to forget the goodness of the Lord, like those nine lepers. But like Naaman, and the one Samaritan leper, we want to remember the covenant. We want to remember what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, raised from the dead; this descendant of David has done for us (2 Tim 2:8-13). Even on his way to the cross, he reaches out to everyone, including the lepers, with deadly disease.
In every circumstances of our lives, let us continue to remember, keep in mind all the goodness of the Lord, and be grateful to Him in our songs, praises and prayers (1Thess 5:18), and in how we treat one another in words, thoughts an deeds.. Gratitude makes us whole, and saved in Christ Jesus.