COMMON SENSE: You’re cured of leprosy, you say thanks…

Hi everyone, here’s my homily for October 13, 2013 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – The readings for today can be found at: . Thanks for reading, for sharing this blog, and for all your feedback and comments. God Bless – Fr Jim
One afternoon a few weeks before Christmas, a lady had been shopping at the local mall. And in all the craziness of the traffic getting into the Mall, the lines once in the stores, the crowds, she felt the need for a coffee break. So she buys herself a super-venti-molto-expresso-latte-cappuccino (which probably cost $6) and decided to indulge and get a bag of cookies which she put in her shopping bag.
After paying and then waiting in (yet another) long line for the coffee to be made, the coffee shop was so full that she finally found a place to sit at one of the crowded tables, and then taking the lid off her coffee and taking out a magazine she began to sip her coffee and read. Across the table from her a man sat reading a newspaper.
After a minute or two she reached out and took a cookie. As she did, the man seated across the table reached out and took one too. This put her off, but she did not say anything. A few moments later she took another cookie. Once again the man did so too. Now she was getting a bit upset, but still she did not say anything. After having a couple of sips of coffee she once again took another cookie. So did the man. Now she was really ticked – especially since now only one cookie was left. Apparently the man also realized that only one cookie was left.
Before she could say anything he took it, broke it in half, offered half to her, and proceeded to eat the other half himself. Then he smiled at her and, putting the paper under his arm, rose and walked off.
Could you imagine that happening to you? You would be understandably upset that someone would be so rude. To take without asking and then to not even have the manners to say thank you.
This Gospel story about the 10 lepers whom Jesus cures and only one returns to say Thank You seems pretty straight forward of a story with Jesus giving a pretty clear lesson. When someone cures you from Leprosy – you say THANK YOU – or for you and I, when God hears our prayers – we say THANKS.
Why the other 9 didn’t is really puzzling. These poor guys were desperate – they were ostracized by their friends and neighbors. They are poor and hungry (that’s what happens when no one wants to associate with you). And after nothing else had worked and there was nothing left to try, they hear about this guy Jesus, they cry out to him and what does he do –
Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t perform a dramatic miracle in front of everyone – he tells them – Go show yourselves to the priests. There’s nothing else left to try – so what the heck, they do it. The answer to all their problems, the relief to all their fears, the restoration of families and friends and all that had been lost because of a terrible disease (and the uncharitable responses people had to them) are GONE – in the words of the gospel – “…as they were going, they were cleansed…”
Did they forget that they had asked Jesus to heal them? Did they think that somehow, naturally the leprosy in which their skin had literally been dropping off their body just disappeared? Could they have been that unappreciative? Did they think well God shouldn’t have given us the affliction in the first place – he owed us one?
Why they didn’t do what they should have done didn’t change their Healing though. God still heard their prayer, intervened and healed. And that’s what pure Love is all about. It gives without expecting repayment. As much as Jesus calls attention to the fact that only one comes back to say Thanks – he doesn’t take the miracle back – he doesn’t curse the ingrates and say I’m never going to listens (or answer) their prayers again. As St. Paul says in that second reading – Jesus isn’t like that – he is who he is and he can’t change that – He simply loves us, hears our prayers and responds to them with the hope that we simply will recognize that gift and in the secret, quiet of our hearts say thank you…
Thinking back to that woman who’s coffee break was ruined – man, was she steamed. Imagine again being in her shoes – thinking the audacity, the craziness of some people! She was already imagining in her head about how this would be SOME STORY to tell her family at the Christmas table. Finishing her coffee, she folded her magazine, opened her shopping bag, and there discovered her own unopened bag of cookies.
Here she had in her mind and heart skewering the man who “stole from her,” when in fact, she had been the recipient of a somewhat sacrificial love. Here she had been taking from this guy – and been rude (and angry about it) let alone saying thanks to the man for understanding, thanks to the stranger for sharing…
We say that we believe in God, that we Follow Jesus, that we trust God is active in our lives – the question the 9 ingrates put to us is – do we really believe that? 1 out of 10 – 10% was all so moved by what Jesus had done for him that he didn’t care how it was done – he was able to recognize and connect that his prayer had been answered – he had experienced God’s action in his life – and he was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Jesus challenges us to look in our lives. How often do we drag our butts out of bad… literally having to drag ourselves as we give an UGH – followed by – I just gotta get through this day, or this week, or this month or this semester… Almost wishing it away and missing the gift of life we’ve been giving, the precious gift of time, the uniqueness of how each and everyone of us has a special, unique, individual call – a Vocation on how to serve God. How often do we look at some trying, difficult thing that were anxious about only to get through that and then beginning worrying about the next one? Not even giving a thought to the gifts God showered on us in those moments.
Our being here is a great start, to take some time to see the big and little ways that the prayers, and concerns we carry in our hearts – the things we lay at God’s feet are always answered. May this help us to develop that so called “attitude of gratitude” which opens our hearts not simply to offer thanks, but to be selfless and loving to all those we encounter in our daily lives.