Be Aware, Be Grateful

Be Aware, Be Grateful

October 9, 2016 | N W | Deacon Eddie, Grace, Healing, Thanksgiving

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 9, 2016 – Year C
Readings: 2 Kgs 5:14-17 / Ps 98 / 2 Tm 2:8-13 / Lk 17:11-19
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

Be thankful.  We know we’re supposed to do it.  Count your blessings.  I’m sure everybody has heard that.  So why then do we often have so much trouble remembering that?  I’ve asked myself that as I prepared to preach this morning. And the list is long.  We’re busy, one thing after another.  Two things that happen to us are highlighted very well in the readings today.

First, we’ve grown to expect certain things.  That was probably what was going on with the nine lepers.  They were all Jews, and they knew that great prophets often heal people, and Jesus had built quite a reputation as a healer. So nine Jews along with one Samaritan decided that Jesus could probably heal them.  They went to Jesus and said, “Have pity on us; heal us.”  This is late in Jesus’ ministry, so they were probably a little taken aback when He just said “Alright, go show yourselves to the priests.” 

But as they were walking along, they were healed, which is what the nine Jews were hoping for, if not fully expecting. Being good Jews, they decided to do what the law tells them they must do: “Go, show yourselves to the priests,” because as lepers they were forbidden to be around other people until they had received the blessing from the priests.

But the Samaritan wasn’t operating from that mindset.  He probably thought, “What do I have to lose?  I’m just going to tag along with these other nine, and maybe it’ll happen and maybe it won’t.”  So you can understand his joy and his shock when he was actually healed.

When we expect things, we often tend to not remember that we didn’t do anything to deserve them.  That’s highlighted in today’s first reading about Naaman, but it helps if you know a little bit more about the story in the Old Testament.   

Today our reading in Kings starts at verse 14, but if you go back to verse 9 you learn this: Naaman came with sores, and the prophet Elisha sent him a message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan.  Your flesh will be healed. You will be clean.”  But this is interesting:  Naaman went away angry.  Remember, Naaman is a foreigner, from Syria. Naaman gets angry, and he says “Are not the rivers of Damascus better than all the rivers of Israel?  Could I not wash in them and be cleaned?”  But his servants point out something to him.  They say, “If the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary would you not have done it?  All the more now, since he has said to you, wash and be clean.”  That’s where we pick up with today’s reading.   

If the prophet had told Naaman, “Climb to the highest peak, slay the dragon,” whatever, that’s what Naaman was expecting.  What did he do? He said, “Huh? Go wash in the river?” Incidentally the Jordan was very dirty so you can understand his saying, “I don’t want to get in that.”   

That happens to us.  We grow accustomed to things.  We grow accustomed to the beauty of our liturgy.  Often it’s only when something special happens that we are reminded.  Who was not moved by what we have just witnessed of the candidates and catechumens coming forward?  They have seen the beauty in our liturgy and in our teachings, and they want to join us.  

It’s always interesting to hear people talking after a funeral about how beautiful a Catholic funeral is. How many of us remember that?  We have grown accustomed to it, so we expect it.  It is interesting that when we expect things, and we don’t do anything to earn them, we often forget to be grateful. 

Look at the world we live in.  Look at the beauty. Despite the problems, it’s beautiful.  We tend to climb some of the beautiful trails we have here and look at the beautiful vista, and then we’re thankful and we’re moved to thank God.  But isn’t the tree growing in your backyard just as amazing, just as beautiful?   

We are here today to celebrate the Eucharist.  The word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” We often forget that.  In the second reading today St. Paul says, “If we have died with Him, we are also raised with Him.  If we persevere with Him, we will also reign with Him.”  That’s Paul’s poetic way of saying if we have been baptized with Christ, we have been raised to new life through Him.  If we persevere in the struggles that we face day to day, we will spend eternity with Him in heaven.  Let’s always remember what a beautiful blessing that is, and give thanks.