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10/13/19 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

In ancient Israel, nothing was more pitiable than a leper. They were prohibited from entering any town, since the disease was so contagious. They had to continuously shout “Unclean!” so people knew a leper was approaching and could clear the area. They couldn’t come within 50 yards of a healthy person.

Theirs was a life of total isolation: no friendship, no sense of belonging, no affection. And in today’s gospel we meet 10 of them.

They stood off at a distance and shouted to Jesus, “Jesus, master, have pity on us!”

And Jesus heard them. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. In Jewish law a priest had to declare someone free from leprosy before that person could re-enter society. And on their way to the priest, the 10 were healed. 

But only one of them realized that he’d been healed, and returned to thank Jesus and glorify God. Isn’t that amazing? Leprosy is a painful disease, and if you were healed you would notice. The other 9 simply took the healing for granted, and didn’t realize the incredible gift they’d just received.

G.K. Chesterton once said: “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

  • Gratitude opens our hearts to God and to others.
  • Gratitude makes us more fully human.
  • Gratitude sets our minds on eternity.
  • Gratitude is the secret to true flourishing both as individuals and as a society. 

This is the great lesson from today’s gospel. Receive the gifts of God with gratitude. 

I would like to read to you a few prayers that were written down by children in a Sunday school class.

  • (Debbie, age 7) Dear God: Please send a new baby for Mommy. The new baby you sent last week cries too much.
  • (Norma, age 8) Dear God: How many angels are there in heaven? I would like to be the first kid in my class to know the answer.
  • (Angela, age 8) Dear God: This is my prayer. Could you please give my brother some brains? So far he doesn't have any.
  • (Hank, age 7) Dear Lord: Thank you for the nice day today. You even fooled the TV weather man.
  • (Lois, age 9) Dear God: Please help me in school. I need help in spelling, adding, history, geography and writing. I don't need help in anything else.
  • (Natalie, age 7) Dear God: Do you have any helpers in Heaven? I would like to be one of Your helpers in Heaven when I have summer vacation.
  • (Susan, age 9) Dear Lord: Tomorrow is my birthday. Could you please put a rainbow in the sky?
  • (David, age 7) Dear God: I need a raise in my allowance. Could you have one of your angels tell my father. Thank you.
  • (Diane, age 8) Dear God: I am saying my prayers for me and my brother, Billy, because Billy is six months old and he can't do anything but sleep and wet his diapers.

The simplicity of these prayers amuses us. Yet, there is great wisdom in them.

It is not for nothing that our Lord told us that unless we become like little children, we shall not enter into his Kingdom.

These prayers reflect a complete confidence in God - the same confidence that the lepers had in Jesus.

And by curing those lepers, Jesus proved to us that he deserves that kind of confidence.

The devil is very interested in undermining our total confidence in Christ.

Because the devil knows that if we start thinking of Christ as only a wise teacher, maybe a good guy, but a little too idealistic - if we lose that simplestrong faith that the lepers had in his lordship, we will be much more likely to walk away from him. Following Christ's commandments and teachings is not always easy for us. Christ demands that we go against our fallen nature instead of giving into it. That takes effort on our part. He always provides the help of his grace, but grace doesn't take away our responsibility.

Because of this, because following Christ's teachings goes against the grain of our natural selfishness and of the social trends around us, we are often subconsciously looking for excuses not to do so. If we start thinking of Jesus as one religious leader among many, if we start thinking of Christianity and the Catholic Church as one religion among many, if we start thinking of the pope as just one lobbyist among many, then we'll have a great excuse for picking and choosing which of Christ's teachings we will follow.

But Christ is not just another philosopher: he is the Lord, he cured the lepers with a mere word, he rose from the dead.

The Church is not just one more religion: it is the body of Christ with an eternal guarantee.

The pope's teaching on faith and morals is not just one more position paper: it is definitive, by divine decree.

Today, as Christ renews his commitment to us in Holy Communion, let's renew our confidence in him, and promise that with the help of his grace, we'll follow wherever he leads.



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