Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 13
May Each One of Us Always Count Our Blessings with Sincere Thanksgiving and Heartfelt Gratitude, Never Failing to Give Thanks in Every Circumstance for All the Times That We Have Truly Felt God’s Infinite Love and Mercy Working in Our Lives.
In today’s Gospel, we hear the suffering cry out, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
What can adversity and misfortune teach us about the healing power of God’s indescribable Love and limitless Mercy? In the seventeenth chapter from the Book of Proverbs, we read, “He who is a friend is always a friend, and a brother is born for the time of stress.”
When hardships and difficulties strike at home, I am sure that we can each attest to who truly is our brother, our sister, our friend. If we should find ourselves in the hospital or at home in bed due to some illness, who is it that always comes to visit or takes the time to call and ask us how we are doing or to wish us well?
In this same vein, our Gospel Reading today records an unusual encounter between Jesus and people who had been divided amongst themselves. For centuries, including the years when Christ walked amongst us, the Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another, and were openly hostile whenever their paths crossed. In this Gospel narrative however, we see one rare exception – a Samaritan leper in company with nine Jewish lepers.
Sometimes, adversity and misfortune forces us to drop our barriers or to forget our prejudices. And when this group of lepers saw Jesus, they were emboldened to come forward as a group and ask for His help. However, in their anguish and personal suffering, they didn’t ask for healing specifically, but rather they asked for mercy, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
According to Webster’s dictionary, the word mercy means “compassionate treatment of those in distress.” Mercy itself is something far more than just compassion or heartfelt sorrow at another’s misfortune. If we feel compassion for someone, we empathize with the sufferer, but mercy goes one major step further – mercy removes the suffering! A merciful person shares in another’s misfortune and suffering, as if they were his or her own. And that person will do everything in his or her power to dispel, to take away that misery.
Understanding this concept, what is the significance of these ten lepers asking for mercy? They know they are in need of healing – not just physical, but spiritual healing as well. They approach Jesus with contrition and faith because they believe that He can release the burden of guilt and suffering they have been carrying, and make restoration of body and soul possible.
Their request for mercy is both a plea for pardon and release from this suffering, for leprosy was a disease which ostracized one from both society and family. And Jesus, being who He is, gives an example of Divine Mercy to all who ask with faith and heart-felt contrition. Jesus is the quintessential, the exemplary Model of whom a merciful ruler, a truly righteous king should be – one who exhibits justice tempered with true compassion and mercy.
And we witness this example of Divine Mercy and God’s compassion to His children in our First Reading today. Naaman was a valiant commander in the Syrian army. He was a prideful man, knowing that his own people regarded him highly for his military accomplishments.
Yet, because of his personal sufferings from leprosy, he comes to the prophet Elisha in humility and eventually agrees to do what he was told – to plunge his entire body seven times in the Jordan River, a river which he felt was unclean. And, due to his obedience, “His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean of his leprosy.”
In gratitude for this gift of his bodily cleansing, Naaman wishes to reward Elisha. Elisha, however, knowing that the miracle given was due to God’s Loving Mercy, refuses the gift. Naaman, a foreigner and idol worshiper, then asks for “two mule-loads of earth” so that he can offer worship on soil from the Holy Land, for his heart responds, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”
And we see a similar act of thanksgiving from a foreigner in today’s Gospel. After our Lord showed His kindness and mercy to the ten lepers, it was only the Samaritan who “returned, glorifying God in a loud voice.” His act was one of true graciousness in expressing the profound gratitude and appreciation which he felt in his heart. The Samaritan approached Jesus reverently, and the Gospel tells us that he prostrated himself before Jesus in sincere thanksgiving.
If you and I do not recognize and appreciate The Divine Mercy shown to us throughout our lifetime, we too can become like the other nine lepers. Ingratitude can easily lead a person to a lack of charity and intolerance toward others, as well as to other sins – such as unjustifiable resentment, discontent and an arrogant pride. When you and I look at ourselves in the mirror, what do we see? How often have we been ungrateful to all those who have shown kindnesses to us – be they family or friends?
The question we can take home from today’s Gospel story is this – “Do you and I express our gratitude to God for all the mercies which He has shown towards us, and do we show that same mercy to others in our life?” This Samaritan, in showing his gratitude, “fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Again, looking into the mirror at our own reflection, do we see ourselves more like this Samaritan, or do we see ourselves more like the other nine?
In total gratitude for all the mercies which God had given to Paul throughout his four missionary journeys evangelizing God’s Truth, Paul, despite his own sufferings and imprisonment, encourages Timothy and his disciples in today’s Second Reading –
“Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.”
It was Saint Faustina who once wrote in her Diary, “Divine Mercy in My Soul” – “By giving [God] glory, I myself am lifted up. On seeing His happiness, I myself am made happy, because all that is in Him flows back upon me” (Diary, 1246). And this is what Saint Paul felt in his own heart, and this is what each and every one of us is called to feel in our own hearts and souls.
In the life of faith which you and I live in our daily lives, may we never fail to recognize God’s Love and Mercy always at work within us. May His Love and Mercy always fill us with gratitude and thanksgiving, freeing us from all pride and discontent.
And may each one of us always count our blessings with sincere thanksgiving and heartfelt gratitude, never failing to give thanks in every circumstance of our lives for all the times that we have truly felt God’s Infinite Love and Mercy working within us!
And then we, too, shall hear our Lord’s words of encouragement and blessing within our heart and soul, “…your faith has saved you.”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, ‘Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?’” (Luke 17:15-17)
- “[Naaman] returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before [Elisha] and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel…please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth, for your servant will no longer make burnt offerings or sacrifices to any other god except the LORD.’” (2 Kings 5:15ab, 17)
- “He who is a friend is always a friend, and a brother is born for the time of stress.” (Proverbs 17:17)
- “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. May those who long for your help always say, ‘The LORD be glorified.’” (Psalm 40:17)
- “Every day will I bless you; I will praise your name forever and ever…All your works give you thanks, LORD, and your faithful bless you.” (Psalm 145:2, 10)
- “You are my God, I give you thanks; my God, I offer you praise. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, whose mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 118:28-29)
- “Through [Jesus] then let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
- “Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.” (2 Timothy 2:10-12a)
- “Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28)
- “And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
- “…Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” (Luke 17:19)
Prayer for the Day
“Thank You, O God for all the graces
Which unceasingly You lavish upon me,
Graces which enlighten me with the brilliance of the sun,
For by them You show me the sure way.
“Thank You, O Lord for creating me,
For calling me into being from nothingness,
For imprinting Your Divinity on my soul,
The work of sheer merciful love.
“Thank you, O God, for Holy Baptism
Which engrafted me into Your family,
A gift great beyond all thought or expression
Which transforms my soul…
“Thank You, O God, for all the inspirations
That Your goodness lavishes upon me,
For the interior lights given my soul,
Which the heart senses, but words cannot express.
“Thank You, O Holy Trinity, for the vastness of the graces
Which You have lavished on me unceasingly through life.
My gratitude will intensify as the eternal dawn rises,
When, for the first time, I sing to Your glory.”Saint Faustina (Diary, 1286)