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Scripture Reflections - October 13
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

2 Kings 5:14-17
2 Timothy 2:8-13
Luke 17:11-19

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

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. There are two great stories this Sunday in which God clearly points out that “outsiders” were more trusting in God’s healing power and more grateful for His favors than were His chosen people.

The first reading is really a shortened version of the very exciting story of God’s healing an “outsider” named Naaman, a foreign military commander, who has 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 river. At first, he storms away in anger.

“Aren’t our rivers better than yours?” 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 famous Gospel about the ten lepers. Because their disease, incurable at the time, was contagious, lepers were shunned by all and looked down upon as great sinners. The disciples must have been appalled 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. “Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

Both of today’s readings deal with God’s disappointment with His special children, the ones 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 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. Like spoiled children, we just take God for granted!

And He has forgiven us. But what hurts Him most is our ingratitude in the face of His gifts and our indifference in response to His love. In this story, it is a foreigner who seeks a cure from his leprosy and receives it. It is this foreigner who expresses deep gratitude as He returns to His country a believer.

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 it.”

And how about our attitude to foreigners? A lawyer once asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” And He answered with a story. And in the story, it was a Samaritan, a foreigner! Foreigners are my neighbors.

People in hospitals and nursing homes, deformed people, people that aren’t "normal" somehow, we treat them like foreigners! We keep our distance. Or people with terminal cancer. We don’t know what to do or what to say, so we do nothing, we say nothing, and we keep our distance.

Let’s think about these things today, and if necessary, make some changes in our habits. Jesus will shower us with even greater blessings.

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