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10/09/16 Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Ron

Homily Summary for Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ Deacon Landry

Happy Thanksgiving! In the spirit of today's gospel, I would suggest that to be a perfectly appropriate salutation. The focus of today's narrative is actually not on the miracle performed by Jesus, but on the response to that miracle. We witness the healing of ten lepers, and our Lord's instruction to show themselves to the priest. Lepers were, by law, ostracized from society; they were relegated to the outskirts of the city. This explains why they stood at a distance from Jesus and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" It is only the priest who could pronounce a judgment that a leper was clean and able to return to the community.
In their desperate predicament, Jews and Samaritans in this narrative are reduced to depending upon each other. Otherwise, it would have been intolerable for the two groups to come together. For this reason, the fact that it is a Samaritan, and only a Samaritan, that returns to offer thanksgiving to God for having been healed is all the more a stark message to the ancient Israelites who heard this gospel.
Soon, we will all gather around our respective family tables and celebrate Thanksgiving—a  holiday whose roots are found in a commemoration of good harvest. By extension, we use the event to give thanks for all with which we have been blessed—spiritually and materially. It is traditionally a most fitting time to make an extra effort to come together as a family, often traveling at great distance.
At many of these gatherings, it is customary to go around the table expressing those things for which we are grateful, in a very real way playing out what the tenth leper did in today's gospel. Therein is found an additional blessing to those for which we already give thanks. While being together to share the sumptuous meal is most certainly a blessing, and sharing with each other our gratitude for various individual blessings, the very recognition of our blessings becomes an overall blessing in itself.
When we have completed the Liturgy of the Word, our celebrant will begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The word Eucharist is Greek for "thanksgiving". This theme of "thanksgiving" to God was evidently a behavior of Jesus at meals clearly recognized by the apostles. In his gospel account of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, St. John refers to the scene as "where the Lord had given thanks." Moments from now we will hear the celebrant repeat the words of our Savior at the Last Supper which carry on this theme of "thanksgiving": Jesus "...took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them..."
Thanksgiving was so much a part of the character of Jesus that it was the very action of "giving thanks" that enabled the two disciples on the way to Emmaus to recognize the Risen Christ when he broke bread with them. The concept of "thanksgiving" has become an intrinsic component of our celebration of Mass as the celebrant makes present today the action by which Jesus gave thanks at the Last Supper. We unite to that act our own gratitude for the graces bestowed upon us as individuals and as a parish and as a universal Church.  As our Catechism states,  Eucharist is "the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit"
Having heard the words of today's gospel, this is an excellent opportunity for you and me to reflect upon the many blessings we have received from Almighty God. We must endeavor to pray in thanksgiving to God with the same fervor that we pray in times of urgent need. And we must make every effort to recognize, even during challenging times—especially during challenging times—the loving hand of God in our lives.
As we participate in Mass we offer our prayers in thanksgiving for the ultimate sacrifice of our Savior on the Cross. It is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to become man, suffer and die—even die on a Cross—that enables sinners to be reunited to God. We could never adequately express our gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ for all he has done for us. However, as we witness in today's gospel, we must at least try.


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