Michael M. Burke, O. P., D. Min.
Have We Realized That We Have Been Healed?
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-28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, October 13/4, 2007

ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA, 4PM;

DOMINICANS SISTERS, 11:15 AM.

CI:  HAVE WE REALIZED THAT WE HAVE BEEN HEALED?

          ‘Where are the other nine, ten were cleansed were they not?’  Jesus’ words always stir a feeling of sadness that He appreciated the one leper who returned and missed the others who did not.  I ask myself the question what happened inside him that he ‘realized he had been healed.’  What does ‘realize’ mean?  He experienced something more than the others did.  From what he did we can get a clue to his realization.  He came back and glorified God and fell at the feet of Jesus in worship expressing his words with a ‘loud voice,’ and then thanked Jesus.

          The other nine went on their way.  We can imagine them, healed on the way, excited, happy, and obedient.  Yes, they followed Jesus’ command to be checked out by the priests as the law required of all people healed of leprosy.  Something was different with them because evidently from the story their experience did not bring them to worship or to return and give thanks, even at a later date.  We have to take the story as it is and see its message.

          The reaction of Jesus is important because it indicates that he appreciated the return of the one leper who was full of praise and gratitude.  Jesus says that his ‘faith’ saved him.  The other nine did not have that experience of faith or being saved.  At least they didn’t hear Jesus tell them that.

          A little background of the Jewish people at the time might help understand their reaction.  Incidentally, the nine were Jews and the one leper who return was a Samaritan, considered a ‘religious heretic,’ and a social outcast by the Jews.  Samaritans were sort of hybrids, all because of a religious break with Judaism back in the 7thc before Christ.

They would perhaps be like any group that is excluded by another because of race or religion.

          At the time this story was written, around 80-90 AD by Luke who also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, we know that there was a growing blindness in Israel to the Gospel and a receptivity by Gentiles.  Israel was the specially chosen people, but they became insensitive to this gift, took it for granted and were blinded to the gifts that were theirs.  So, this story bespeaks that and could give us some insights about our own insensitivity and perhaps lack of gratitude for what has been given to us.

          Speaking for our experience as Catholics, we considered ourselves much like the chosen Jewish people.  We are the ‘true Church,’ and other words indicating our chosen status could possibly lead to a sort of complacency.  Or perhaps the emphasis on being obedient to the laws of the Church could contribute to a blinding to the Spirit speaking in our hearts.  The laws are good, but there is a saying that the ‘Law, killeth and the Spirit gives life.’ 

          Or another way of understanding the response of the one leper is that he or she was so aware of the stigma of being both a leper and a Samaritan that the meeting with Jesus who saw no differences among the lepers was very healing in itself.  Jesus could have said,  ‘I’ve come for the chosen Jews, I’m sorry, but you must wait for your healing because you are a Samaritan.’ 

          Somehow within each of us we have to find the place where we feel really grateful for what God has done for us to come to this saving moment of ‘realizing’ that brings us to our knees and to worship and living faith in Jesus.  Then we hear Him say, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.’

          I think of my gratitude many years ago for the privilege of attending a Catholic High School, St. Patrick’s on Miami Beach.  Like the Samaritan I came from a family who was marginalized in the Church because my mother was divorced and a Protestant when she met my father.  There were no annulments in those days and her case would have been a ‘shoe in’ today.  So my parents were married by a Justice of the Peace.  My father couldn’t be a Knight of Columbus and there was a general feeling in our family that we were less than.  How wonderful that God broke threw all those barriers and chose me to be a priest.  Long before that, however, I wanted to experience school and God together as I perceived a Catholic School would be. 

          I remember that first day at school, so happy and grateful.  So after classes I found the church and went inside to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.  I thanked Jesus for this great privilege of being to be at school with Him so close and to join my education with my faith.

          That story is long ago for me, but it comes to mind today.  What comes to mind for you today?  Are you already ‘realizing’ what God has done for you and are here today full of gratitude, or are you still waiting to realized that you have been healed and are waiting to realize what God has done for you.  It really seems obvious that we have been loved and healed so completely.  Yet, there is within each of us still parts of ourselves that are being healed and we can always admit that we need to be more grateful and to return to give thanks.  That is what we do in every Mass or Eucharist as we also speak of the Mass which means, ‘Thanksgiving.’  Listen to the prayers in the Eucharist today and let them speak your own thanksgiving.  Then when we receive Jesus in communion come with a loud voice and say, ‘Amen.’


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