Oct. 9, 2016 - 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
For the lepers to be cured, what was the one thing they had to do? They had to go show themselves to the priest. They had asked for healing and this is what they were told to do.
It's not that the priest was going heal them. It’s because in Jewish religious practice at that time, only the priest could declare that they were now clean, and rejoin their community.
We all ask for things from the Lord all the time, favors and healings and the like. I don't think Jesus’ answer today changes. Go show yourself to the priest.
It's not that the priest will heal you. It’s Jesus who heals. And where do we typically encounter the priest today? Mainly at Sunday Mass. And so, you would be fulfilling the religious obligations that you are supposed to fulfill. Our church tells us that doing the things will help us lead better lives.
So then, it is here at Sunday Mass that we begin to find the healing that we need.
Now, if we choose, we can also find the priest in other places. The pilgrims who traveled with me to Acadie have been changed. They have begun to find some healing that they needed
Notice if you will please, that these lepers are somehow healed along the way. Did they go away from Jesus feeling downcast? Was it gradual? Were they expecting the priest to heal them? How and when did they come to the realization that they were cured?
We're not sure. But we know for they were healed. That’s clear. There’s no question about that. Their prayers were answered.
But sadly, only one returns giving glory. He falls at Jesus' feet. In his return, he proclaims to all the world that faith and prayer and obedience to God really do save.
You know, the same thing happened to Naaman the Syrian in the first reading. He was a man of power, a mighty warrior accustomed to getting his way.
Elisha, the man of God, knows that the Lord God wants to teach Naaman a lesson in humility. And the healing Naaman so greatly desires does not come until he submits and does exactly what the prophet tells him to do. That’s when the lesson of humility is learned, and so the healing comes.
For us, then, it's not enough to just show ourselves to the priest. We must participate. We must pay attention. We must listen. We must pray.
Doing these things helps us learn the lesson Jesus desires to teach us. These things are important because they help us grow in that special relationship with the Lord Jesus that we all seek.
Participating, paying attention, praying and listening are the very things that begin to change our hearts. And as this happens we gain a spirit of thanksgiving. As this spirit of gratitude grows within us, we learn how to say thank you to God.
And Jesus notices. Has only one come to say thank you? Jesus notices. Jesus watches and waits for us to run to him so he can fling his arms around us and embraces us with love, and only then will he say to us, “go your way, your faith has saved you.”
What an honor to be able to come show yourself to the priest to say thank you to Jesus. We an honor to be able to come show yourself to the priest to say thank you to his mother, to our mother Mary.
We light candles in good times and in bad, but we also light candles to say thank you. We pray the rosary for our loved ones who have died, but we also pray the rosary to say thank you.
We come to Mass to pray for all the people we love and for all those who love us in return, but we also come to Mass to say thank you. We pray to the Lord to ask for healing, but we also pray to the Lord to say thank you for the blessing we have already received.
Maybe Jesus is hurt when we don't come to say thank you. “Where are the others?” he asks. After all, they had all prayed. They all were heard. They all had their prayers answered. They were all been healed. At the very least, could they not say thank you?
This thanksgiving is absolutely necessary. It must become the center of our lives. Without out it, we become cold, bitter, heartless, lifeless and devoid of love. We become petty, selfish, jealous, resentful, angry and cynical. It's so difficult to receive the healing the Lord Jesus desires for us when this happens.
So, if there’s some healing you wish to receive from the Lord, come here Sunday after Sunday and show yourself to the priest to say thank you. And gradually, somewhere along the way, you will be healed.