28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) 13th October 2019

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) 13th October 2019


My dear sisters and brothers in Christ! A story is told of a man who was lost in the forest. Later, in describing the experience,
he told how frightened he was and how he had even finally knelt and prayed. Someone asked,
“Did God answer your prayer?” “Oh, no,” the man replied. “Before God had a chance,
a guide came along and showed me the way out.” Like that man, many of us are blind to the
many blessings that God daily showers upon us. We awake to see the sun shining, and do
not give thanks to God. We hear the birds chirping and see beautiful flowers and trees,
but we don’t give it a moment’s thought that God has given those blessings and given
us the senses to enjoy them. We grumble about having to eat the same kind of food, forgetting
the hunger in the world. We complain about our jobs, forgetting that many would be grateful
just to have a job or even to have the bodily strength to go to work. So we spend much time
recounting our woes and disappointments to the extent that we hardly recognize or appreciate
the Goodness of God in our lives. In today’s readings we are reminded of the importance
of showing gratitude to God. In today’s first reading, the story of Naaman the leper
is a typical example of how we should express our profound gratitude to God. In today’s
gospel too, we have Jesus curing ten lepers. Leprosy was a dreadful disease then. While
the physical disease was horrible, the terrible social consequences in ancient Israel only
added to the misery. According to the historian, Josephus, lepers were treated “as if they
were, in effect, dead people”. The Law prescribed that the person be cut off from society, including
his family. He had to wear torn clothing, cover his lips and shout “Unclean! Unclean!”
wherever he went to warn others to keep their distance. So Jesus curing the ten lepers was
a very great act for them like giving them new lives to live but only one returned who
was a Samaritan. What caught the admiration of Jesus about the Samaritan was that he:
“Turned back, praising God at the top of his voice, and threw himself at the feet of
Jesus and thanked him.” When was the last time we expressed this kind of gratitude to
God? In this personal encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan leper there are two things
we learn: first, the faith of being grateful seems to be different and even deeper than
the faith that requests help; second, miraculous healing seems to be different from salvation.
The nine lepers had faith to seek help from Jesus, but the Samaritan leper had a deeper
faith in expressing thanks. The nine lepers were healed; the Samaritan leper was healed
and saved. These two aspects could be challenging to many of us. We might have faith that only
seeks help from God. Jesus challenges us to go beyond. Let us briefly look at the two
types of faith: The faith that seeks help is problem-focused. It could be an expression
of being self-absorbed. We might continue to ask for the wrong things, and when we are
not given we feel sad about it. On the other hand, the grateful-faith is positive. It is
an expression of going beyond our selves. The grateful faith can motivate us to show
gratitude for all that we receive – both good and bad. Today what we feel is not a
blessing may prove to be a blessing tomorrow. Modern day research confirms the positive
effects of gratitude on general wellbeing and happiness. I suggest four ways in which
we can express gratitude. 1. Can we spend quality time every day in expressing our gratitude
to God. Also specifically pointing out the different situations where God came to our
aid during the day. 2. Are there people who have played an important role in your life,
and you have not expressed your gratitude to them explicitly? Why not write a letter
of gratitude to them? Research by psychologists has found that people who wrote a gratitude
letter to someone they had never properly thanked were happier than those who hadn’t.
. 3. Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, or even once a week, think of
writing three things that went well for you that day or week. Again research has proved
that those who kept gratitude journals enjoyed better emotional health compared to those
who didn’t keep. 4. Say ‘thank you’ on a regular basis during the day. THANK YOU for listening to me!

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