Homily – 28th Sunday OT C 10/13/13

Homily – 28th Sunday OT C                    10/13/13

Where are the other nine?

Jesus is amazed, and even a bit hurt, at the incredible lack of gratitude he encounters among the lepers he heals as he journeys to Jerusalem to die for our sins.

Jesus had given these ten men so much in taking away their leprosy; no more would they suffer the pains of sickness, no more would they have to fear an imminent death, no more would their bodies be disfigured, no more would they be estranged from their loved ones and their communities.

Yet despite all these blessings Jesus had freely given them, only one of the ten lepers, a non-Jewish Samaritan, returned to show his great gratitude.

Where are the other nine? He laments, as he journeys down to Jerusalem to save not ten lepers, but you and I and every person suffering from the spiritual leprosy of sin and death. Will those people be just as ungrateful as these were?

Gratitude is really central to our faith, to the point where we call what we do at Mass “The Eucharist”, a Greek word which literally means “thanksgiving”.  Even the word “Grace” means “thankful”.  And too often, we in our spiritual life are more like the other nine than we are like the Samaritan Leper: Jesus touches our hearts in the hopes that we will turn to him more fully, but 90% of the time, we miss the opportunity.

Where are the other nine?? Let’s see where they are.

One of them said to himself “There must be some rational explanation for my healing; I must have been getting better and didn’t realize it, it was just a coincidence that Jesus came around today, after all, there’s no such thing as miracles.” and went on his way.

The Second Healed Leper said “Boy, am I glad that leprosy business is over with. I never want to think of those days again!” And blocking out all memory of the past, went on his way.

The Third Leper, after realizing he was healed, said “I really need to get back to Jesus, to thank Him for all He did for me.”  but he got wrapped up in the busy-ness of life, and never got around to doing so.

The Fourth Leper was the closest in spirit to the Samaritan leper; after being healed he was deeply touched and genuinely  grateful for what Jesus did to him, and immediately resolved to return to Jesus and become a disciple.  But his family and friends were very opposed to the idea, and they managed to talk the healed leper out of it.

The Fifth Healed Leper talked himself out of going back to Jesus, because if he went back, he knew Jesus would challenge him, perhaps ask him to change his lifestyle.  And so like the Rich Young Man, this fifth leper went away sad, having many possessions he couldn’t detach himself from.

It never once crossed the poor Sixth Leper’s mind to be grateful to God for healing him.  He never deserved to be sick in the first place! What had happened to him was totally unfair, if there was really a God, he wouldn’t have let him get leprosy. And while, in a moment of weakness he cried out to God for help, he was still too bitter and upset at God to now be thankful.

The Seventh Healed Leper didn’t return to Jesus to thank him, quite simply because he was an ungrateful, self centered person. Either his parents didn’t teach him to always say please and thank you, and to send thank you cards when you are given a birthday or Christmas gift, or else they did, and he freely chose not to learn to be grateful.

The Eighth Healed Leper did have a grateful heart, and would have gone back to thank Jesus, but when he found out that only one other leper was going back, and that he wouldn’t be able to just blend in with the crowd, but would have to publicly be seen as a believer in Jesus, he chickened out and didn’t go.

And finally, the Ninth Healed Leper also didn’t want to go back with just the one other Leper, because the guy was a Samaritan, and he hated Samaritans, they were all a bunch of degenerates. If this is the kind of people Jesus attracts, No Thanks!

Where are the other nine lepers? Jesus asks. There they all are.

But the Tenth Leper by God’s grace realizes he had been healed by Jesus, as incredible as that seems to him.

He realizes that before he can go on with his life, as much as he would like to rush home to his loved ones, he needs to make thanking Jesus a priority, and more than that, He wants to repay Jesus for all he has done for him by giving his life to him as a disciple.

Yes, it will entail sacrifice, yes, some of his family and friends will object; still, Jesus has healed him and saved him from so much misery by coming into his life.

And so the Leper overcomes his fears, and burning his bridges returns in a loud voice, is vocal about what Jesus did to him.

And while before at a distance because of his leprosy, now he draws near to Jesus and kneels before his feet, showing himself to the High Priest of the New Covenant.

May we be like that Samaritan Leper, and be vocal in thanking Jesus each and every day for healing us of the leprosy of sin through his passion and resurrection.

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