Happy Thanksgiving! I’d like to look at the setting of today’s Gospel.
Jesus is continuing His journey to Jerusalem. ¿What’s going to happen when He gets there, in Jerusalem? …. Not good.
The Gospel states: “He traveled through Samaria and Galilee…” Samaria was Samaritan territory and Galilee Jewish territory. Jews and Samaritans were enemies. Samaritans were descendants of the ten northern tribes of Israel that broke away after King Solomon, formed their own country, and with it their own worship. There was a bitter civil war. Jews worshiped in Jerusalem, the Samaritans on Mt. Gerazim, and they looked on each other as heretics.
So Jesus is in a border area, a border between two opponents. It would be like travelling today through Gaza and Israel, or Texas and Northern Mexico. Lots of tension, lots of armed guards, lots of animosity. It is a conflicted situation that is uneasy and not at all settled.
In this situation ten lepers approach Jesus. It is a mixed group. Men and women perhaps? Jews and Samaritans. Young and old probably? Their differences erased by their common affliction and misery. Their identity was reduced to their disease. Ten lepers.
They shout, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And Jesus does. He tells them to “Go show yourselves to the priests” so that they can be declared healed and clean, and return to community.
All ten are healed. One returns. And he is a Samaritan. The one enemy is the one who returns to give thanks to God. He is the only one to whom Jesus proclaims “Your faith has saved you.” The heretic is the one with faith.
Wouldn’t you like to know what happened in this guy’s life after that? Here is an opening for some speculation and midrash. Did he follow Jesus? Go back to Samaria? Become a disciple? Who knows?
But this Gospel is about us. How do we come to Jesus looking to be cleansed? Cleansed of spiritual leprosy: of selfishness? Of lies? Of gossip and greed and lust and hard-heartedness? Cleansed of fear so that we may truly be alive?
Do we first of all have the wisdom and the courage to cry out, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us?” That raises the question: Is Jesus our Master? And, do we recognize our need for healing?
The correct response to Jesus’ healing is gratitude. Gratitude.
What are we as St. Austin Parish grateful for?
- Anyone grateful for new bathrooms, nursery and new lobby area?
- Anyone grateful for the Christmas Basket project that has been going on here for many years?
- And the for St. Vincent de Paul Society, and Thursday Outreach, which do such great but often quiet work through the WHOLE year, not just at the holidays??
- Anyone here grateful for our wonderful St Austin School, that not only does such a great job of preparing our children academically but even more importantly does a remarkable job of forming and developing our students’ morally and spiritually?
- How about the music ministries here, the lectors, ushers, eucharistic ministers, our deacons and the Paulists? Anyone grateful for them?
- How about the phenomenal Kristallnact program we just had here, that was beautiful, touching, thought provoking, challenging, and so professionally done?
I am especially grateful for the Parish Pastoral Council, the Property Committee, the Finance Council, the School Advisory Board, the Development Committee, the Investment Committee, and many other boards and councils, and all the dedicated and talented people who generously share their time and talent in this plethora of endless meetings. We can even be grateful for meetings! AMEN?
Brothers and sisters, just like in the time of Jesus, we too are in a time of tension, of conflict, of animosity and disease. But just like in the time of Jesus we also have much for which to give thanks.
Our model is the Samaritan, who returned glorifying God in a loud voice, fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him. Let us do the same. AMEN.