28th Sunday in ordinary time, Year C

Readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17, Psalm 97:1-4, 2 Timothy 2:8-13, Luke 17:11-19

Faith and gratitude; the password to total healing

If our faith were as small as the mustard seed, we would do great things. We would say to the mulberry tree be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey. We would do what is seemingly impossible, just with faith as tinny as the mustard seed. This was the baseline of the gospel we heard last Sunday. Imagine then how little faith we have. Yet it does great things, it brings magnificent changes. Today, through the experience of the ten lepers, the Lord wants to bring to concreteness the effects of our faith.

 Faith does not require of us much, it only needs trust and obedience, and it requires our actions. It calls us to simple actions like that of Naaman, little actions of courage, little actions of faith. Elisha told Naaman just to dip himself seven times in the Jordan, and Naaman did so and was cleansed. Naaman was a Syrian with a high reputation. He could have doubted the prescription to dip himself in the Jordan for healing. Yet despite his high reputation, he was humble enough to obey. Faith also requires a certain sense of humility.

The Lord does not ask much from us to experience the healing and the miracles that we seek. If only we have faith, then we shall be able to achieve that.  He did not ask him to do the impossible. Naaman could have taken the request with contempt expecting to be asked something extraordinary, but he believed and was obedient to that simple ordinary gesture. His flesh became clean like a little child, and he recognized and praised the power of the God of Israel. The experience of Naaman teaches us that God requires us to obey him in faith and he then leads us to what we desire. He does not ask us what is beyond our means. Often the challenge to our faith is that we expect terrifying actions, and breathtaking scenarios yet obedience to a simple command like “go and dip yourself in the Jordan” could be just what is needed. We should learn to do little things with great faith and conviction that the Lord shows us grace through them.

Leprosy, the sin that breaks the relationship

In today’s gospel, we are led to yet another experience of faith, the prerequisite for our encounter with Jesus. The ten lepers desired to cleanse and heal. Their hearsay about Jesus led them to have hope that they could be healed. Traumatized, shunned, and secluded from the community due to the very contagious leprosy, the ten lepers are an expression of a life of despair and suffering, rejection and pain. They had to avoid contact with others, even with their loved ones, their closest kin. They were destitute, vagabonds left to die alone. Often their loneliness killed them before leprosy. Closest to this we could think about the covid times when the patients had to live alone, to be quarantined.

Suffering from leprosy brought out aspects of rejection, of being considered unclean. Besides this, leprosy as a disease causes numbness of the limbs. It eats up the fingers and toes and creates unbearable sores on the skin. It disfigures the face of its victims, making them lose their eyebrows and eyelashes. Just imagination of this is enough to make one feel the pain. It would seemingly be like one is hated by the world because of who they are. Thus, it is not just a biblical sickness we hear in this narrative. It is an actual sickness, whose forms the world suffers from even today. We can also think of sin as that spiritual leprosy that breaks our relationship with God and with the community. How many times others are judged and excluded because of their public sins, (leprosy we cause when we judge others), how many people suffer rejection because of their past, (Leprosy of self-judgment), and how many people are excluded because of their physical appearances? (The leprosy of esthetics). There are also self-invented leprosies that make others run away from us, jealousy, mouths full of lies, rumor-mongering, insults, and jealousy. Let us be aware also of this. At times we may be the cause of the reason why people are running away from us. There is hope in the Lord because all forms of leprosies can be combated with love, compassion, and inclusion. The Lord grants healing from all sorts of leprosy to those who seek it. What is required and necessary is to approach Jesus, do the prescription of healing that he gives and say thank you, Lord.

Thank you, Lord

Of the ten lepers, only one returned to give thanks. This reminds us of the importance of gratitude. To say thank you is part of the healing, to say thank you brings the healing to completion. Through this gesture of the one leper. Let us learn to say thank you to the Lord for what he has done to us, for the healing we receive from the forgiveness of our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thank you, Jesus!

 


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