(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, October 9, 2016)
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Despite the fact that God had chosen the Jewish people as His very own, He was disappointed at their lack of faith and trust in Him, and their lack of gratitude for His favors.
The two healing stories today highlight Jesus' intention of bringing salvation to Jews and gentiles alike.
The first reading is really a shortened version of the very exciting story of God healing an "outsider" named Naaman, a Syrian military commander who had contracted leprosy. His wife's Jewish slave had suggested that he seek help from the prophet Elisha. He goes to the King of Israel loaded with gifts and letters of introduction from his own king. Fearful of a plot, the King sends him to the prophet Elisha who tells him to wash seven times in the Jordan. At first he storms away in anger. "Aren't our rivers better than yours?" he complains. But on the advice of his own servants, he swallows his pride and obeys the prophet. As soon as he enters the waters of the Jordan, his leprosy is cured! Immensely grateful, he is converted, and worships the God of Israel. In the story, this Syrian has more faith in God's power than the Jews have!
A similar theme is found in today's Gospel about the ten lepers. Because their disease was contagious, lepers were shunned by all and looked down upon as great sinners. The disciples must have been shocked when Jesus shows these outcasts such compassion. When He sends them to the priests for official reinstatement into society, He also heals them during their journey. One of them, a Samaritan, returns immediately, and falls down in thankful adoration at Jesus' feet. Luke emphasizes how disappointed the Master is that only one of them comes back.
Both of today's readings deal with God's disappointment in His special children, the ones whom He calls His chosen people. As disciples of Jesus, we have ample proof that we are His special ones, His chosen ones. Yet, over and over again, we, too, have been disobedient complainers. Often we have even turned to false gods of money or possessions and neglected to love Him and to serve Him. God must be so disappointed when we don't show our gratitude for His favors. On the contrary, we are often resentful that God hasn't done more for us.
We need to ask ourselves today, "Am I really grateful for God's constant love and for His forgiveness? Or do I just take Him for granted?" We pass by the confessional in our churches countless times. Instead of going in from time to time to ask God's forgiveness, we just take it for granted. "Oh, sure I believe that God is forgiving. He forgives me all the time!" And God says, "Not so fast! Show me you mean”.
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor