08 October 2010

'Your faith has saved you': 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, 10 October 2010

Christ healing a leper, sketch by Rembrandt, drawn c. 1657-1660.


New American Bible (Philippines, USA)

Jerusalem Bible (Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, Scotland)

Gospel (Luke 17:11-19, NAB)

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."

When I was in kindergarten in Dublin one of the first holy persons I learned about was Father Damien of Molokai, now St Damien. Sister Stanislaus, the Irish Sister of Charity who was the principal of the boy's kindergarten and who prepared us for our First Holy Communion in 1950, was forever telling us about this great priest.

A few months after my First Holy Communion Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity were formally established. She had spent a few months in Dublin, 1928-29, as a postulant with the Loreto Sisters and it was they who sent her to India where she was a member of that congregation till she got permission to found the Missionaries of Charity.

Both St Damien and Blessed Mother Teresa exemplified very powerfully the mission of Jesus to those who are on the margins of or outside society. Both gave themselves at great cost. For St Damien it was isolation and then finding that he had acquired leprosy. For Blessed Mother Teresa, as we know now, there was deep spiritual anguish. Part of the cost to Jesus himself in today's gospel was the lack of gratitude of nine of the ten whom he had healed and enabled to be fully part of society again.

The Church continues to bring the healing power of Jesus to people who have nothing or who are ostracised.

The gospel too evokes the words of St Paul: 'Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you' (1Thess 5:17) and 'always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father' (Eph 5:20). I remember an incident outside a retreat house in Cebu in the morning of Holy Thursday 1990. A woman and her daughter, aged about 13, asked me for money. I made an excuse that I was only visiting. Later I saw them sitting on the steps of the retreat house, the daughter, clearly tired, with her head on her mother's shoulder. When I was leaving I gave them enough to buy a meal. The girl looked at me with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen and said in Visayan 'Salamat sa Ginoo!' 'Thanks to the Lord!' she wasn't thanking me but inviting me to thank the Lord with her and her mother. This young girl had the same deep sense of gratitude as the Samaritan leper had.

Fr Thomas Rosica CSB writes: 'Thankfulness is much more than saying "Thank you" because we have to. It is a way to experience the world, to perceive and to be surprised. Thankfulness is having open eyes and a short distance between the eyes and the heart. What are the signs of grateful people? Tears are always wiped away from the eyes of those who are thankful. The courage to thank, to see the gifts and experiences of this world all together as a gift, changes not only the person who gains this insight. It also changes the environment, the world, and those who surround that person. Grateful hearts are the hallmark of authentic Christians. Those who possess the virtue of gratitude are truly rich. They not only know how richly they have been blessed, but they continuously remember that all good things come from God.'

You can read the full text of his reflections on the readings for this Sunday here.

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