Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 10, Luke 17:11-19
In today’s Gospel story for this Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, ten lepers came to Jesus, stood at a distance from him and raised their voices saying, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” And Jesus said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were all cured of their leprosy. However, only one of them later returned to thank Jesus. And Jesus wondered, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?”
We almost always hear this same Gospel read on Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November to remind us not to forget to thank God for his many blessings on us throughout the past year. But it is also a Gospel that again causes us to think of faith. The first reading for today’s Liturgy from the Book of Kings also reminds us of faith. The lepers had the faith and trust in Jesus to come and ask for his help. And their faith was rewarded. “Your faith has saved you,” Jesus said to them. Naaman, the object of the first reading, did not have faith in Elisha the Prophet and he almost blew his cure from leprosy because of it.
Naaman was an army commander who contracted leprosy and it threatened all that he had worked for. A friend of his servant suggested he go to the Prophet Elisha and seek a cure. Naaman, ready to go to any extreme to be cured, went with his whole retinue, gifts, money, etc., to seek the help of Elisha. When he found him, Elisha didn’t even come out to see him personally, but sent a servant to tell him to go to the Jordan River and bathe seven times. Then he would be cured. Naaman thought this was about the silliest thing he had ever heard. There had to be more to it than that! He was about to throw in the towel, when his servant reminded him, “Why don’t you give it a try? What do you have to lose?” So Naaman went and bathed seven times in the Jordan River, and was cured! The point of all this: Do it God’s way and you will receive what you desire.
Doing things “our way” is another huge block to our faith and trust in God. Perhaps it is the greatest block. And it is pride pure and simple with a little selfishness thrown in for good measure. Naaman wanted to do it his way and nearly blew it. He tried it God’s way and was cured. Someone is trying to tell us something here. This theme also ties in with last Sunday’s theme of surrendering to God.
For heaven’s sake, let’s try doing things God’s way. What do we have to lose?
Monday of the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Oct. 11, Luke 11: 29-32
One of the main themes running through the entire ministry of Jesus is repentance. It begins way back with John the Baptist: Repent, make the U turn, convert, change! As an example of this repentance, Jesus points out the story of Jonah going to the Ninnevites, whom Jonah greatly feared, and telling them to repent or else. And, as we know, by golly they listened to him for a change and repented. One of the few instances in the Scriptures when someone listened to a prophet! Jesus’ preaching to the Israelites and to us often does not have the same results. Like we talked about yesterday, we want to do things our way and consequently the nonsense going on in our lives continues on and on.
What can I do today to show myself and my God that I am serious about repenting, about turning around certain areas of my life?
Tuesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Oct. 12, Luke 11: 37-41
The theme of getting our priorities correctly ordered appears in today’s Gospel reading. First things first! This theme also ties in with the theme of this week’s readings to focus on doing things God’s way rather than our own way. Believe me, God’s way puts things in their proper perspective.
Jesus has nothing against the many and various rituals prescribed in the Jewish law of the times, but he does care about us keeping things in their proper priority. Don’t worry about washing hands and dishes and all these little things before you satisfy your obligation to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless and give drink to the thirsty.
To find our priorities we call to mind once again the spiritual and temporal works of mercy as gleaned from the Gospels. To refresh our memories, the spiritual works of mercy are: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive offenses willingly, to comfort the afflicted, and to pray for the living and the dead. The temporal works of mercy are: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and those in prison, and to bury the dead.
Take a moment to read these spiritual and temporal works of mercy slowly and meditate on them. If we follow them, we will keep things in their proper priority in our lives.
Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Oct. 13, Luke 11: 42-46
We have been speaking off and on so far this week about doing things God’s way rather than our own way and of getting our actions into their proper perspective and priority. Both of these themes boil down to the same thing. In today’s first reading from the Letter of Paul to the Galatians, Paul points out the same thing to his readers.
The way of God equals the fruits of the Spirit, namely: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. On the contrary, the works of the flesh,our way, are: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissension, fractions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
Where in all of this does our treasure lie?
Thursday of the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Oct. 14, Luke 11: 47-54
Rejecting God is another theme found in the Scriptures that ties in directly with doing things our own way and misconstruing our priorities that we have been talking about all this week. The rejection of God is nothing other than choosing our own way and setting our own priorities, what is important to me.
Rejection of God begins in the Scriptures with Adam and Eve doing their own thing, with the Israelites on their journey through the desert on the way to the promised land, with all the belittling of the prophets by the people of God, with the scribes and the Pharisees in the New Testament and with us in our own modern times. It just never ends.
Why do we find it so difficult to just throw our arms around Jesus and to follow him wherever he leads us?
Friday of the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Oct. 15, St. Teresa of Jesus
St. Teresa of Avila, also known as St. Teresa of Jesus, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515. She died in 1582 at the age of 67. There is much to read about her and her life at the Catholic Online website under the link of Saints and Angels. Suffice it to briefly say here that she was a member of the Carmelite Order which she later reformed. She wrote a number of books detailing the fruits of her own spiritual life. She was canonized in 1622 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1970. For reasons I do not know, she is the patron saint of headache sufferers.
St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saturday of the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Oct. 16, Luke 12: 8-12
“But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.”
This Gospel chosen to be read for today’s Liturgy always reminds me of a little story I read somewhere a long time ago. It is the story of a missionary who had spent practically his whole life in the foreign missions preaching the Gospel and a rather famous singer who had spent just two weeks in the same locale as the missionary. They were both returning home to New York City on the same boat. When the boat docked, there were thousands of young people there to meet the singer and there was not one solitary person there to greet the missionary. The missionary gave in to thoughts of self-pity for a moment or two and then prayed, “Lord, I gave you my whole life and he gave you only 14 days. Yet thousands are here today to welcome him and no one is here to welcome me home.” And the Lord quite simply answered, “My son, you’re not home yet.”
Matthew tells us in his Gospel to store up riches in heaven. Are we expecting too many rewards for our work or too much recognition for what we have done here on earth rather than looking forward to the rewards and joys that will be ours in the Kingdom?