Gospel Meditation: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Fr. Armando

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” (Luke 17:11–19).

I. JESUS, MASTER! HAVE PITY ON ME!

Petition: My God, full of love and mercy, have pity on me. I don´t want to hide from You like a spiritual leper; my lack of love and compassion, my lack of humility and meekness. Father, have pity on me! Heal me from my spiritual leprosy! Heal the selfishness that destroys and corrupts my soul just as leprosy destroys and corrupts the body. Almighty God, for You nothing is impossible; heal the deformations of my soul created by my sins. You the Wound Healer, Lord Jesus, have mercy on me!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus healed ten individuals who were sick with leprosy, a highly contagious disease spread by contact that produces deformities in the patient’s extremities, was considered a “contagious impurity” that required ritual cleansing (cf. Leviticus 14:1–37). While leprosy causes external deformities there is a deeper “leprosy” that “truly disfigures the human being and society is sin; it is pride and selfishness that spawn indifference, hatred and violence in the human soul. No one, save God who is Love, can heal this leprosy of the spirit which scars the face of humanity. By opening his heart to God, the person who converts is inwardly healed from evil” (Benedict XVI, 10/14/2007).

Are we aware of our spiritual sicknesses? Are we conscious of the depth of our selfishness? Do we have any compassion for those who suffer sickness or poverty?

There is a strong text in the book of Revelation that talks about this human blindness:

The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see (Revelation 3:14–18).

We need healing, every human being in the deepest dimension of our personal existence, in the dimension of love. This is the reason we need to come to the Healer, to the Divine Physician, just as the Fathers of the Church did with Jesus.

Christ bent down before the physical and spiritual sufferings of man in order to heal him. Do we bend down to those who are suffering or are we insensitive and numb? People close to us, sometimes even in our own families suffer deeply with despair, sadness, depression, anxiety, loneliness, addictions, etc., do we bend down to them or do we simply avoid them claiming that we don’t have the time to help or visit?

God heals the heart and the soul, restoring it to friendship with him, to love, peace and joy. The most powerful tool we have at our disposal is the Sacrament of Penance, “the whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace, and joining with him in an intimate friendship” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1468).

God heals the intimacy of the person through his love, through his mercy; our lack of love is a consequence of our separation from God, our affective distance from God; when Saint Paul, encourages us, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20) is for bringing us to a new life in Christ “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Because “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We need healing. Only love heals the soul, but who can go deep inside us to heal our wounds, our experiences, our lack of love? God, who invites us: “Remain in My love!” (John 15:9).

II. THANKFULNESS AND SALVATION

Petition: Fountain of Being, Life, Wisdom, Love, Goodness and Beauty; You, my God, are all these things in your Eternal Being. You, Almighty Creator, give being, life, everything to everyone and everything that exists. I beg You to give me a thankful heart so that I may be saved. Help me to recognize the truth of who I am and what I have and help me to know that all of it comes from You and Your love.

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator (Catechism, 27).

Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible… all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things subsist” (Colossians 1:15–17).

The question is: What do you have that you have not received? (1 Corinthians 4:7). If all is a gift, what can be the only profound answer? Obviously, gratitude.

“Your faith has made you whole”. It is faith that saves human beings, re-establishing them in their profound relationship with God, themselves and others; and faith is expressed in gratitude. Those who, like the healed Samaritan, know how to say “thank you”, show that they do not consider everything as their due but as a gift that comes ultimately from God, even when it arrives through men and women or through nature. Faith thus entails the opening of the person to the Lord’s grace; it means recognizing that everything is a gift, everything is grace. What a treasure is hidden in two small words: “thank you”! (Benedict XVI, 10/14/2007).

St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote about the thankless:

It seems to me, in light of the divine Goodness… that ingratitude is one of the things most worthy of detestation before our Creator and Lord, out of all the evil and sins which can be imagined. For it is the failure to recognize the good things, the graces, and the gifts received. As such, it is the cause, beginning, and origin of all evil and sins; and on the contrary the acknowledgement, thankfulness and gratitude for the goods and gifts received is the source of other gifts and graces” (Letter 16, to Simon Rodriguez).

And this from St. Therese of Lisieux:

What most attracts God’s grace is gratitude, because if we thank him for a gift, he is touched and hastens to give us ten more, and if we thank him again with the same enthusiasm, what an incalculable multiplication of graces! I have experienced this; try it yourself and you will see! My gratitude for everything he gives me is limitless, and I prove it to him in a thousand ways.

III. PSALM 136

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good,

for his love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods

for his love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

for his love endures forever;

who alone has wrought marvelous works,

for his love endures forever;

whose wisdom it was made the skies,

for his love endures forever;

who fixed the earth firmly on the seas,

for his love endures forever.

It was he who made the great lights,

for his love endures forever,

the sun to rule in the day,

for his love endures forever,

the moon and the stars in the night,

for his love endures forever. In you, Lord, is our hope:

and we shall never hope in vain.