28th. Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The One Who ‘Heals Lepers’ Is Now Among Us.”
Today we come to give thanks to God and to offer sacrifice to him for having made known to us his salvation and cleansed us from our sins.
Why do we take pride in the good deeds we do? Why do we feel superior and greater than others and despise them? It is because we forget that we were once lost ‘lepers’ (spiritually) who have been healed by the word of Jesus. The Gospel tells us that the first to understand this truth were those that the Jews considered heretics.
The first reading also shows us a leper, Naaman, who a foreigner was healed in ‘body and spirit’ by God through his encounter with the prophet Elisha.
The second reading gives us the example of Paul. He was well aware that he had been a ‘leper’. Christ had saved him and had enabled him to bear everything for the sake of the Gospel.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
2 Kings 5:14-17.
A Syrian, Naaman, came to Israel in search of the prophet Elisha, whom he hoped would cure him of leprosy. Elisha received him and told him to immerse himself in the river Jordan seven times. At first Naaman was reluctant. The river Jordan was just a muddy stream. It did not seem a likely place to be cured of leprosy. Nevertheless, he finally did as Elisha had commanded and was cured.
Naaman was now on his way back to the prophet to thank and reward him, but Elisha refused to take anything from him. Clearly the man of God did not want Naaman think that healing was his profession. Naaman understood that it was Yahweh, the God of Israel, who had worked the miracle. He then made a profession of faith: “Now I know that there is no God anywhere on earth except in Israel” and made the resolution to never worship any other god but Yahweh. He decided also to erect an altar to the ‘God of Israel’ in Syria and asked permission to take with him “as much earth as two mules may carry”.
Naaman was cured not only of the leprosy that has disfigured his body, but also of the illness that had disfigured his spirit: he had converted from paganism to the worship of the ‘One True God’. He was granted ‘both healings’ gratuitously: they had been a free gift from the Lord.
Back in his country he would be forced to attend with his king the pagan rites in the temple of Rimmon. He would be forced to submit to this external mark of idolatry. He confesses this ‘inevitable sin’ to Elisha and asks understanding for his weakness. Elisha just told him: “Go in peace”. We can’t approve of evil, but we have to admit that there are difficult and concrete situations where it is not possible to apply the law to the letter.
The Christian ideal is not achieved overnight; the ‘way’ to it may be long and hard. Do we share Elisha’s understanding towards those in difficult situations? Do we try to solve these difficult cases by simply applying the letter of the law or do we pay heed to what our hearts have to say?
This Sunday’s Psalm concentrates on the universal rule of Israel’s God. It would have been at home on the lips of Naaman who recognized that God’s compassion and concern for social justice were not confined to Israel but were for all the nations. It is an invitation for all to sing praises to Yahweh; ‘He’ has worked wonders. “He has remembered his love and his faithfulness towards the house of Israel.” It concludes: “Shout aloud to Yahweh, ‘all the earth’; break into joyous songs of praise”.
2 Timothy 2:8-13.
Paul was known for his deep faith in Christ as a result of his own experience of violent conversion early in his life. The Letters of Timothy reflect a Paul close to the end of his life, but the same intensity of faith in the Gospel shines forth as the end nears. The second reading concentrates on Jesus, ‘the giver and the gift’. “Remember Jesus Christ,” Paul writes to Timothy, “raised from the dead.” Further on Paul says, “If we have died with him, [died to self and sin in baptism], we will also live with him [in true repentance we will live a new life in Christ]; if we endure [persevere in our trust and our faith, no matter what], we will also reign with him [by his grace in the kingdom of God].”
Paul never loses confidence that ‘God’s Word’ will triumph. Since by our baptism, we are all called to evangelize, the question must be faced: do we display half the courage and passion in our witness to Christ as Paul did?
In today’s Gospel reading Luke shows us once again Jesus’ concern for those for whom no one else cares. A new scene of salvation takes place at the entrance of a village. Jesus, visiting his people, is welcomed by ten lepers who implore him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus did. The ‘ten’ exhibited two of the spiritual gifts, faith and hope and a third gift of obedience. Without touching them Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest (who alone could pronounce someone cured of leprosy). On the way to the priest the ten found themselves healed.
When Jesus meets the ten lepers, he could have healed them immediately on the spot, as he had done with other sick people in the Gospel. But he does not do that. He sends them to a priest, who will make the customary control of their cure and offer the sacrifices prescribed by the ‘Law of Moses’ before they are integrated back into society again. Luke portrays Jesus as respecting the Law of Moses. The roots of Christianity are in Judaism and this is respected by Luke, the only non-Jewish writer of the entire New Testament.
Only one person, the Samaritan, returned to thank Jesus. Only the ‘heretical and despised Samaritan’ found the true depth of the gift. He recognizes that it is Jesus and not the Jewish Law that gives life in its fullness and therefore turns to him praising God and thanking him. It was to that ‘one alone’ that Jesus imparted something better than a healing: the ‘assurance of salvation’.
As a Samaritan he does not see the point of going to Jewish priest for examination. Jesus has cured him and all he wants to do is to recognize, with gratitude, that it was God who cures him through his Saviour, Jesus. The experience of healing takes him beyond the law to a confession of faith in the God of Jesus and in Jesus himself. True faith may grow where we may least expect it. Only the heretical and despised Samaritan found the depth of the gift. Only he found Jesus. The other nine saw Jesus only as a wonder worker who healed them. The Samaritan realized who Jesus was: the Messiah and Saviour. To him only did Jesus say, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Ten lepers were outwardly healed but ‘only one was healed inwardly’.
God continues to care for our sicknesses and weaknesses today. We may not be suffering from illnesses that cause disfigurement, but we are all sick and weak in one way or another. We are selfish. We are ungrateful. We are ignorant. We are afraid. We are lazy. We are constantly distracted from paying attention to God. Apart from these chronic spiritual disabilities, we are also deliberate sinners. God extends his gratuitous healing to us in many ways: in the cleaning water of Baptism, in the strength and energy of the Eucharist; in the guidance that comes from the Gospel and the Sacred Scriptures; in the encouragement and saving direction that comes through prayer and reflection; and in the inspiration and guiding love from our brothers and sisters in the family of faith.
Finally, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we receive God’s healing touch ‘par excellence’. For all these healing gifts we owe God our gratitude. “God still cleanses lepers today, and in many respects, we are the lepers”.
Pray that Jesus will say to us, “Your faith has saved you!”
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Naaman understood the gift of faith by his utterances of the words: “Now I know that there is no God anywhere on earth except in Israel”. Do we truly believe in these words or do ‘other gods’ still emerge in our lives when we lose faith and trust in God our Father?
Mon. … Naaman knew he would be forced to attend with his king ‘pagan rites’ in the temple of Rimmon and confesses this inevitable sin to Elisha in advance. His openness and sincerity to Elisha as to the obstacles he needs to face in his newfound faith can be an inspiration for us in Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Tues. … Elisha recognizes the fullness of the gift of faith cannot be achieved overnight and the ‘way’ to it may be long and hard and sometimes painful. How often do we judge others harshly without thought and proper consideration to their difficult circumstances?
Wed. … Paul is imprisoned and had already finished his first court case but nobody had the courage to stand up and testify in his favour. Many of his friends had abandoned him and some had even testified against him. This can be the fate of many serving loyally the cause of the Gospel. Can we share in Paul’s convictions to witness in good and bad times alike?
Thurs. … We the ‘New People of God’ respect the Law in the Old and New Covenants; but do we truly realize that the fulfilment of the Law is in the person of Jesus? It is through his Death and Resurrection we are redeemed. Jesus’ loving sacrifice imparted something better than just healing: the assurance of salvation if we truly want it.
Frid. … One of the lepers saw beyond his cure to the God who through Jesus made it possible. He turned back, praised God and expressed his gratitude to Jesus. Like Naaman he was a foreigner. But he was no ordinary foreigner; he was a Samaritan, one of those “who did not associate with Jews”. True faith may grow where we least expect it.
Sat. … Where were the other nine lepers? One out of ten … is that our average score in showing appreciation to God and to others? When we stop short at the gifts we receive and revel only in them, we miss out on the real gift, ‘who is Jesus’.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, help to us to recognize that the depth of all the gifts we receive is the ‘Risen’ Christ. May we understand that when we stop short at the gifts we receive and revel only in them, we miss out on the real gift, ‘who is Jesus’. He alone is the ‘gratuitous gift’ who leads us to the fullness of life.
This we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.