SUNDAY 28TH WEEK YEAR C
The central theme of today’s readings is gratitude – in particular, the expression of gratitude God expects from us. Today’s Gospel story of ‘the forgetful lepers’ presents a God Who desires gratitude from us for the many blessings we receive from Him, and Who feels pain at our ingratitude.
The sincere gratitude of Naaman towards Yahweh and his prophet Elisha brought him a gift far more precious than the healing of his leprosy. He received faith in Yahweh and was determined to serve Him faithfully. Obedience to the prophet healed him and his faith in Yahweh brought him healing of his sins as well. Humility obtained for him the cure of his skin disease. Gratitude to Yahweh obtained for him a far greater grace, faith in the true God. Jesus was pleased to see one of those lepers, the Samaritan, coming back to Him, praising God for the favor received. It pained Him that the other nine had not come back to do the same. He certainly expected them back, not because He wanted to receive their gratitude as to enable Him to complete His work of love, of which their healing was only the first step to bring them to faith.
We must not fail to notice that Jesus did not withdraw His favor from the other nine. They must have happily returned to their village after the priest issued a certificate confirming their cure. But little did they think of the greater blessings they missed on account of their ingratitude. Eucharist means thanksgiving. When we come to take part in the Eucharist we do what Naaman and the Samaritan leper did, we give praise and thanks to God. Let our thanks find joyful expression in this Eucharist. An unreflective heart is an unappreciative heart, an unappreciative heart is an ungrateful heart, and an ungrateful heart is a sick heart. Our ego can become so demanding that it can make endless claims and multiply needs. Hence, it is part of self-discipline to put a check on the demands of our ego and teach it to be reflective, to consider the blessings it has received to enjoy them and to be grateful for them. Thanksgiving has the rare power to refine the person who gives it and to gladden the person who receive it. Ingratitude on the other hand, hardens the former and saddens the latter. Once a son wrote a letter to his mom.
Dear Mama. This morning I cleaned our lawn that will cost you ten dollars. After lunch, I washed the plates and utensils that was worth five dollars. This afternoon, you asked me to buy some items in the grocery, since the sun was hot and the grocery store was far, I would charge you ten dollars. Twenty-five dollars is the total money you owe me. Signed: Your Obedient Son.
The mother wrote back. Dear Son. I carried you in my womb for nine months I charged you nothing. I had a hard time giving birth to you that I almost died I charged you nothing. When you were two years old, you got sick and I was not able to sleep for three days caring for you but I did not charge you anything. Overall, you owe me nothing because I love you. Signed: Your Loving Mother.
Gratitude is the attitude of a sensitive soul appreciative of its gifts. It is the sign of a good heart which, while it enjoys the gifts, is not forgetful of the giver of gifts. The nine ungrateful lepers in today’s gospel were so wrapped up in themselves and engrossed with the blessings they had received that they forgot their benefactor and saddened Him. A grateful heart is a humble heart, a humble heart is a religious heart, a religious heart is a reverential heart, a reverential heart is a liturgical heart, a liturgical is a praising heart, and such a heart cannot but be joyful and healthy.
Our mission consists in leading people to God, in becoming Good Samaritans. Let our celebrations of the Eucharist be done with conviction and let our voice re-echo the Eucharistic prayer Lord we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you. Amen.