XXVIII Sunday in Ordinary
13 October 2019
Tempus Fugit … Time Flies. It is hard to believe that 1 year ago we held the first Mass in the newly renovated church – unveiling this magnificent work. It is hard to believe that when we began this campaign, a goal of $350K seemed nearly impossible and yet, as was reported last weekend, we raised $473K and counting! It is hard to believe that 4 years ago, when I arrived, we had so little … barely enough money to pay salaries let alone pay our bills! I can honestly say that at the time, my prayers were much like the lepers in the Gospel … “Jesus Master, have pity on us!” It was a prayer of desperation and of total dependence on His providence … just look what God has done for us today! And when Bishop comes for his official pastoral visit next week – we can show him how good the Lord has been to us in these last few years. To say the least, I am overcome with gratitude – exactly like the Samaritan leper who returned to Jesus to give thanks for his healing.
The gospel account teaches us something about gratitude … Although Jews and Samaritans would normally avoid interacting with one another, segregation and disgrace brought these traditional enemies together. They prayed, lifted their voices anxiously for healing … their prayer was one of great confidence and trust in the power of Jesus to heal them. They threw themselves to His mercy. But here is the twist … Only one returns to give thanks – the Samaritan … where were the others … the Jews in that group of lepers … where were they? Had they taken their healing for granted? Had they thought they deserved it? The Samaritan returns giving glory to God who performed a miracle of healing through Jesus – he recognized it and thanked Him… and rightly so…
Gratitude is the proper response to God’s mercy, to His love, compassion, and care. Mercy, healing, forgiveness – these are not things we deserve from God, we ought not take them for granted but respond with an untainted gratefulness – this is the faith of the Samaritan … it is a faith that places our trust and confidence, not in ourselves but in Him – in God who is the object of our faith. The lesson is that our faith is not simply expressed in our prayers, in our outcry, in our requests and petitions … our faith is most accurately expressed in gratitude and praise. Incidentally … did you know that this is precisely the nature of our worship, of Mass? Our form of worship, Mass, is exactly a prayer of praise and thanksgiving … And just think of how alike we are with the leper – we return Sunday after Sunday – back to the source – to glorify God, to praise Him and to THANK HIM for His goodness, mercy, love and care for us.
Sometimes things don’t always go our way, the way we had foreseen … sometimes we don’t get what we want … sometimes we have difficulties with our families, friends, jobs, school, etc … the trials and sufferings of life are countless and can seem overwhelming – but perhaps, like the suffering of the lepers, they are a preparation for something far greater than we could have imagined. In these moments, gratitude is essential because in it is the confidence, the faith, the trust that God will heal, and cleanse, and transform our lives … like He did for the lepers, like He did – and is doing – for our parish … we ought then not forget to be grateful … and where is that gratitude is most appropriately expressed – here in this beautiful church, in the context of our worship. In all circumstances of life, therefore, adopt an attitude of gratitude to God … for in that do we begin to see and experience His divine power and goodness … in gratitude we begin to have a real faith.