SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, October 13/4, 2007
ST. ANTHONY OF
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.’
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.
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.
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.’