Back in the biblical times of Jesus, when someone saw a leper, they were always horrified by the sight of the filthy clothes, the skin with sores all over and especially the stench. These sick people had to shout “Unclean! Unclean!” wherever they went. Thus the scene in today’s Gospel of the ten lepers approaching Jesus is jaw dropping with fear and fright for everyone. Remember that one of the ten is a Samaritan, which to the Jews of then was like having leprosy times two. All ten lepers shout out to Jesus to pity them. Jesus tells them to show themselves to the temple priests, who are the only officials allowed to pronounce them “clean” (healed). We learn that as they go along to the priests, all ten are cured. Yet we know that only one of the ten, the Samaritan, returned back to Jesus.
All of our readings this weekend continue the theme of faith that was first proclaimed in the liturgy two weeks ago. Today we see the spotlight of faith from three different angles. The first reading starts with a miracle and then Naaman follows it with an act of gratitude, which, in turn, is very quickly followed by faith. Note in this passage that faith is born of the miraculous cure and Naaman’s response of thanks. In our Gospel, the Samaritan’s cure follows faith, which as a result triggers gratitude and praise. Bear in mind that these two readings focus on the faith of the receiver of gifts. It is made clear that for the receiver of gifts, there can be no such thing as a quiet or anonymous faith. The gift of faith is meant to be free and seen, not locked away in a closet or box. Faith is to be cherished and shared and indeed it is the main reason for joy.
Our second reading, the Letter to Timothy, in contrast focuses not on the receiver of gifts, but on the giver. Paul intends his followers to recognize the faithfulness of Christ. Indeed he says that so faithful is Christ, that there is nothing we can do and no infidelity on our part which will cause Christ to alter his faithful stand toward us. Paul reminds us that he is in chains precisely because of his commitment to Christ’s faithfulness. Paul proclaims clearly to us that our faith in Christ’s faithfulness will result in our ultimate salvation.
When reading the scriptures of the time of Jesus, we need to remember that all skin diseases caused the sick person to be banished from regular society, and also from the synagogue or temple worship. This is why any cure from leprosy was grounds for double jubilation.
The best paradigm or model of authentic thanksgiving requires the presence of three characters: the giver, the receiver, and an assembly. It was not sufficient to slip silently away in order to offer a benefactor private thanks. The gratitude caused by another’s benevolence requires the receiver to reveal to as many people as possible the graciousness of the giver. True gratitude always found expression in thank-filled praise.
The Samaritan knew what it meant to give thanks, and in a special sense to be a “eucharistic” person. He knew that his cure had not only returned him to health and society, but to the life of the worshiping community as well. His cure, then, became a “sign” of salvation.
Summer moves along quite quickly and all of sudden the start of school and Fall activities are upon us. Make sure you take time to visit and share with family and friends. The regrets of life are not that I needed to work even more or should have had my children in 4 or 5 after-school and weekend organized programs, our regrets are centered around failing to stop all the frantic activity and spend just plain old time with family and friends, sharing food and laughter and memories. Remember: oftentimes frantic activity is merely frantic activity. Oftentimes all this scheduled life for our children is about a lot less, rather than a lot more.BACK TO LIST