13Oct 13 October, 2019. 28th Sunday (C)

1st Reading: 2 Kings 5:14-17

When Naaman heeds Elisha and washes in the Jordan he is cured

Naaman the leper went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy and he was clean.

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing!” He urged him to accept, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.

Responsorial: Psalm 97:1-4

Response: The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power

Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation. (R./)

The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel. (R./)

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy. (R./)

2nd Reading: 2 Timothy 2:8-13

Preaching is a hard vocation; but we will also reign with Christ

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David-that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful-for he cannot deny himself.

Gospel: Luke 17:11-19

Of the ten lepers cured, only one returned to express thanks

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

BIBLE

Gratitude

A friend was once rushed to hospital with a serious pain in his back, the result of an old football injury. He was successfully operated and made a rapid recovery. After his cure, he could hardly say enough in praise of his surgeon, the nurses and the whole hospital. Never again did he complain about our health services. It is normal to feel grateful to those who took good care of us. We have a new joy in living and thank God for being spared the other ailments we saw around us while in hospital. My friend even dropped his guard, to say a prayer of thanks. But the real test of gratitude comes later when the relief has worn off. Do we remember then what people did for us? Do we still say thanks to God, who saved our life?

Earlier generations used to say “Thank God” after remarking about fine weather, success in business or at school, the safe arrival of a child, or a recovery from illness. It’s a good custom, built on a tradition of faith and prayer. We might wonder whether a people truly grateful to God would not show it more in their way of life. A grateful people might be more ready to share what they have. They would hardly be totally fixated on private property, while so many are unemployed and the politics of austerity threatens the welfare of the elderly and the chronically ill.

How satisfying it is to receive a sincere “Thank you” for a service truly appreciated. We might even be embarrassed by the warmth of another’s thanks for something that didn’t cost us much sacrifice; but there’s still a warmth in being thanked for things we’ve done. The contrary also holds, of course: how hurtful it is to be consistently taken for granted, without ever a word of appreciation. One out of ten was a fairly poor proportion; but then, truly appreciative people, willing to make sacrifice to show their thanks, are rare enough.

After Mass, we need to bring this thankful spirit into practical social expression in our treatment of others; seeing our life as gift, we should be better able to accept the realities of daily living and share our blessings with others in a generous spirit.


Freedom and God’s will

Sometimes we pride ourselves in having such a good democratic system, a claim which indeed is debatable. We value individual freedom and liberty, the right to choose and decide for ourselves how to live our lives. But the populace can be swayed by pressure groups and allow hardship and curtailment of liberty to be the lot of migrants and asylum-seekers. And while we do not suffer dictators gladly sometimes we seem to want to dictate to God, make God do things our way, and leave us masters of our own destiny. Some even abandon faith and prayer, because God has not granted their requests.

This was the inclination of Naaman the leper, an army commander from Syria, as he bargained with God. Hoping to be cured of leprosy by prophet Elisha, Naaman arrived laden with gifts of silver and gold, to pay for his cure. The prophet did not even come out to meet him, but sent a message telling him to wash seven times in the river Jordan. Naaman was so hurt that he prepared to return to Syria, raging with indignation. Why wash in this particular river, when there were so many bigger and cleaner rivers at home? “Here was I thinking Elisha would cure the leprous part,” he fumed.

It was only when his servants pointed out how simple was the prescription that he was persuaded to try it and so was cured. Come to think of it, how often do we behave like Naaman. “Why do I have to go to church, when I can worship God out in the open air?” “Why does God send me the cross of sickness, when I could do so much good if I were healthy?” We even find such attitudes among the apostles. “Why do you not show us the Father?” Philip said to him. Some complained, “He says intolerable things and how could anyone accept it?” and they walked with him no more. This reaction of unbelief is often found. But it stands to Naaman’s credit that he thought again, was cured and then returned to thank Elisha.

As Shakespeare wrote in King Lear, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” The Eucharist is a reminder never to forget God’s greatest gift to us, his own Son, our Saviour. If we concentrate too much on asking for things, there is a danger that we may reduce our Mass to the level of magical thinking, a way of turning God to our way of thinking. How much better if we can open our hearts and our lives to whatever God wants for us, which is sure to be the best that can happen to us in the long run.

We are meant to pray “thy will be done”, not demand to have our own way. When we need a favour, we must ask for it with prayer and thanksgiving, because God answers prayer, even if not precisely in the way we expect. Ultimately, says Jesus, God grants only what is for our good. We need to thank God from the heart, like Naaman after his cure, or like the leper who was grateful to Jesus. What a pity the other nine did not say a word of thanks for the blessing they received.


Daoine Geanúil

Nuair a ghuítear ‘Paidir an Tiarna’, deirimid “go ndéantar do thoil ar an dtalamh”  – glacaimíd le Toil Dé agus ní lenár rogha féin.    Chun grásta Dé a lorg, caithfear guí le buíochas, óir freagraíonn Dia gach paidir, ina slí féin agus ní mar a bhíonn súil againne air.   Sa deireadh thiar, deireann Íosa go mbronann Dia orainn gach atá dár leasa.  Ní mór dúinn buíochas ó chroí a ghabháil le Dia, ar nós Naaman, nó an Lobhar  i ndiaidh  leigheas a fháil.    Nach mór an trua é nár ghaibh an naonúr eile focal buíochais leis, as ucht na beannachtaí a fuaradar uaidh.

 

One Response

  1. Seamus Ahearne

    Explorers and Adventurers:

    I am quite ignorant in regard to Facebook/Instagram/Whatsapp. I haven’t a clue. But I hear that the ‘youngsters’ can use some of these, as weapons. ‘To Friend’ someone or ‘To like’ a person, is seemingly rather important. But ‘not liking’ can become a weapon of exclusion/bullying. I don’t grasp all the issues but apparently it can be serious. Even recently, Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy had some such problems. The Wags weren’t too united.

    The Readings (this weekend) speak of inclusion/exclusion. Peripherals isn’t only a technical term. Who do we judge or push to the outside? Who are the outsiders/the insiders? Who is made welcome? Who is blanked? Who is talked about and dismissed? It is a very regular cant in this country – ‘see those foreigners. They get everything: get medical cards; block up the hospitals; get all the Social Welfare; get the housing. But we have paid tax all our lives and we get nothing.’ We often judge people that we don’t know and usually we judge people with a severe lack of information. We gossip too easily. Our own past should not be forgotten. We were strangers once.

    The Bible Stories are good. Who does the awkward/troublesome Jesus pick out/highlight as the Hero? Usually it is the ‘outsider.’ The Samaritan. Who says thanks? The Samaritan. Who helps the robbed person? The Samaritan. Who is the woman who gives Jesus a drink of water? The Samaritan. Who are the ones despised by the Jews? The Samaritans. Who was the outsider healed by Elisha? Naaman – a foreigner. We do need the soil of the past to remind us, of where we have come from, and what has made us who we are. We are bigger than the immediate. Now. Now. Is a very limited version of life.

    What is leprosy in the stories? Is it skin deep? No. It is much more. It is really those who don’t feel welcomed into the inner circle of life. A closed mind. A closed heart. A closed group. Is not Communion. Is not Catholic. I doubt if John Henry Newman ever felt anything other than suspicion as he embraced Catholicism. His final Canonisation will hardly satisfy him, as he rests on the periphery of Church life through the years. We can sadly muse over the recent expose of Sean Fagan’s travails in the cold embrace of mother Church. An outsider for thinking? How is it possible for such things to happen in an oasis of love which is world of Jesus Christ? What is the usual stray talk in a Parish? ‘The same ones do everything and are a clique.’ There is a lovely floating story of the man who came to Church week after week but no one ever spoke to him. He then came to Church wearing a hat and several people told him to take it off. He was noticed. People spoke to him. The Hospitality of the Eucharist. The open Table of Communion. It is some challenge.

    Being different is a form of leprosy. Anyone who steps away from conventional wisdom is unclean. The Christian story is one of expansiveness. We can’t ever be just plodders. We have to stretch the elastics of our imaginations – to be the poets/artists of Jesus Christ. Donald and Boris want a ‘pure society.’ The Kurds don’t matter. The ‘Irish’ don’t matter. No one does. Isolationism is sovereign. Brexit is an attempt to cut off the nose to spite the face! We are all Samaritans. We could sum up the stories of the weekend, this way: Prise open our minds. Make room for new people/new ideas. Be grateful; adventurous; imaginative; hospitable. Big hearts are important. Never lock up the ’Good News of Jesus Christ.’ We should never ‘chain up’ the goodness of God in every person. Open the doors. And be very grateful. All life is gift and grace. Stretching exercises in language and in thinking are at the heart of our faith. Big hearts matter.

    Seamus Ahearne osa


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