September 29, 2019

O. T. 28 (October 13, 2019 Sunday Homily)

OT XXVIII [C] Sunday (Oct 13) Homily– One-page summary (L-19)

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is gratitude – in particular, the expression of gratitude God expects from us. Today’s Gospel story of ‘the forgetful lepers’ presents a God Who desires gratitude from us for the many blessings we receive from Him, and Who feels pain at our ingratitude. L-19

Scripture lesson summarized: Naaman, the Syrian military commander in the first reading, was an outcast not only because of his leprosy; he was also a non-Israelite. But he returned to thank the Prophet Elisha for the cure of his leprosy, and as a sign of his gratitude, transferred his allegiance to the God of Israel. St. Paul, in the second reading, advises Timothy to be grateful to God even in his physical sufferings and amid the dangers associated with spreading the Word of God because God will always be faithful to His people. Today’s Gospel story tells us of a single non-Jewish leper (a “Samaritan heretic”), who returned to thank Jesus for healing him, while the nine Jewish lepers went their way. Perhaps,  they were under the false impression that healing was their right as God’s “chosen people.” They hurried off to obtain health certificates from the priests.  “Where are the other nine?” Jesus asked the thankful Samaritan and the crowd.   Today’s readings also remind us that Faith and healing go hand in hand. It was Faith that prompted Naaman to plunge himself into the waters of the Jordan River, and it was Faith in Jesus which prompted the lepers to present themselves first to Jesus and then to the priests. The readings also demonstrate the universal love of God for all peoples, including the Samaritans (whom the Israelites hated), and the pagans, Israel’s enemies, whom Naaman represented.

Life Messages: 1) We need to learn to be thankful to God and to others. We can express our gratitude to our loving and providing God by offering grace before meals and by allotting a few minutes of the day for family prayer. Let us show our gratitude to our forgiving God by forgiving others, and to a loving God by radiating His love, mercy and compassion to others, including our families and friends. It is by taking good care of our old and sick parents that we express our gratitude to them for the loving sacrifices they made in raising us.

2) We need to celebrate the Holy Eucharist as the supreme act of thanksgiving: The Greek word “Eucharist” means profoundly religious and thoroughly spiritual “thanksgiving.”  When we celebrate Holy Mass together, we are thanking God for giving us the great gift of His Son in the Holy Eucharist so that we can share His Divine life and recharge our spiritual batteries, and for giving us His teaching, guiding and strengthening Holy Spirit. We express our thanks to God as a parish community by sharing our time, talents and material blessings in the various ministries and services of the parish and by our active participation in its outreach programs in the community.

OT XXVIII [C] (Oct 13): II Kgs 5:14-17; II Tm 2:8-13; Lk 17:11-19

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: “Then where’s his hat?” Winston Churchill loved to tell the story of the little boy who fell off a pier into deep ocean water. An older sailor, heedless of the great danger to himself, dove into the stormy water, struggled with the boy, and finally, exhausted, brought him to safety. Two days later the boy’s mother came with him to the same pier, seeking the sailor who rescued her son. Finding him, she asked, “You dove into the ocean to bring my boy out?” “I did,” he replied. The mother angrily demanded, “Then where’s his hat?” In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of nine ungrateful lepers.

# 2: “I’m just so glad and thankful I can hear and see.” Perhaps the most grateful person I’ve ever heard of was an old woman in an extended care hospital. She had some kind of wasting disease, her different powers fading away over the march of months. A student of mine happened to meet her on a coincidental visit. The student kept going back, drawn by the strange force of the woman’s joy. Though she could no longer move her arms and legs, she would say, “I’m just so happy and grateful to God that I can move my neck.” When she could no longer move her neck, she would say, “I’m just so glad and thankful I can hear and see.” When the young student finally asked the old woman what would happen if she lost her senses of hearing and sight, the gentle lady said, “I’ll just be so grateful that you come to visit.” (Rev. John Kavanaugh S. J.)

# 3: Two lists: Perhaps Daniel Defoe gave us some good advice through his fictitious character Robinson Crusoe. The first thing that Crusoe did when he found himself on a deserted island was to make out a list. On one side of the list he wrote down all his problems. On the other side of the list he wrote down all of his blessings. On one side he wrote: I do not have any clothes. On the other side he wrote: But it’s warm and I don’t really need any. On one side he wrote: All of the provisions were lost. On the other side he wrote: But there’s plenty of fresh fruit and water on the island. And on down the list he went. In this fashion he discovered that for every negative aspect about his situation, there was a positive aspect, something to be thankful for. It is easy to find ourselves on an island of despair. Perhaps it is time that we sit down and take an inventory of our blessings.”

# 4: 14F4413E Expressing our gratitude: In 1976 Louise Fletcher was awarded an Oscar for best actress for her role as Nurse Ratched in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She had given up acting for eleven years to raise her children before she won that role after five big-name actresses had turned it down. In accepting her Academy Award, Louise Fletcher did a very dramatic thing. With her voice breaking with emotion she faced a national television audience and said: “For my mother and my father, I want to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true.” (https://youtu.be/pGl5U7nNlkY) Louise Fletcher delivered the message in sign language at the same time, because both of her parents were deaf mutes and were watching from their home in Alabama. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds).

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is gratitude – in particular, the expression of gratitude God expects from us. By describing Jesus’ miraculous healing of the ten lepers from a physically devastating and socially isolating disease, today’s Gospel presents a God Who desires gratitude from us for the many blessings we receive from Him, and Who feels pain at our ingratitude.

Scripture readings summarized: Naaman, the Syrian Military General in the first reading, was an outcast not only because of his illness; he was also a non-Israelite. But he returned to thank the Prophet Elisha for the cure of his leprosy, and as a sign of his gratitude, transferred his allegiance to the God of Israel. In the Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 98), the Psalmist urges us, “Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; Break into song; sing praise!” in thanksgiving to God who has “done wondrous deeds,” for all of us. St. Paul, in the second reading, advises Timothy to be grateful to God even in his physical sufferings and amid the dangers associated with spreading the Word of God, because God will always be faithful to His people. Today’s Gospel story tells us of a single non-Jewish leper (a “Samaritan heretic”), who returned to thank Jesus for healing him, while the nine Jewish lepers went their way, perhaps under the false impression that healing was their right as God’s Chosen People.  They did not seem to feel indebted to Jesus or to God for the singular favor they had received.  Instead, they hurried off to obtain a health certificate from the priests.  “Where are the other nine?” Jesus asked the Samaritan leper and the crowd.  “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Today’s readings also remind us that Faith and healing go hand in hand, as do Faith and reconciliation. It was Faith that prompted Naaman to plunge himself into the waters of the Jordan River, and it was Faith in Jesus which prompted the lepers to present themselves first to Jesus and then to the priests. Finally, the readings demonstrate God’s love for all peoples, including the Samaritans (whom the Israelites hated), and the pagans, Israel’s enemies whom Naaman represented.

First reading (2 Kings 5:14-17) explained: The narrator describes a vivid expression of thanksgiving (hodah) made by the pagan Naaman, the army commander of the King of Aram, (in present-day Syria; its capital was Damascus), at his healing from leprosy through the power of Yahweh.  When the prophet Elisha refused to accept Naaman’s costly gifts as reward for the healing, the grateful Naaman asked the prophet’s permission to take two mule-loads of earth with him from Yahweh’s land of Israel, so that when he got back to Damascus, he could place an altar for Yahweh on the soil, and so pray to Yahweh on the soil of Israel. Most people at that time had a crude, physical and territorial notion of Divinity. It was just understood that one god governed the land of Aram, and another god held sway over the territory of Israel, and so on. If you wanted to worship the God of Israel in another country, you had to take some of Israel’s soil with you, dump it on the ground in the other country and stand on it. That way, you would “be in Israel,” and so could worship Israel’s God. The grateful Naaman who had come to Faith in the Lord God through this miracle worked to heal him of leprosy, promised that he would accept Yahweh as his only God and would now offer holocausts to Him alone

Second Reading (2 Timothy 2:8-13) explained: In the Church at Ephesus, Timothy held an office that would evolve into that of a Bishop. Paul, a senior Apostle now in prison, loved his young, one-time missionary companion and friend of long standing. Today’s passage is part of Paul’s encouragement to Timothy. Paul tells Timothy that he willingly accepts his suffering –“even to the point of chains, like a criminal” – as a grateful Apostle of Jesus, “for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory”(vv 9, 10). Part of the Christian life-experience includes the physical sufferings and dangers associated with spreading the Word of God [1 Cor 15:31; 2 Cor 4:8-11].  Paul reminds us that, “even if we are unfaithful, God will remain faithful;” and, hence, we must be grateful to God, even in our sufferings. “I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ for all of you.”(Rom 1:8)

Gospel exegesis: Leprosy as God’s punishment: Jesus was on the border between Galilee and Samaria where He was met by a band of ten lepers, including among one Samaritan among the Jews. They had been drawn together by their common misery and, in their shared illness, ignored their traditional enmity.  Biblical leprosy rarely included Hansen’s disease (leprosy proper). It was mostly skin diseases like ringworm, psoriasis, leukoderma, and vitiligo. The suffering of lepers in Biblical times was chiefly due to the way they were treated by the religious society of the day (Interpreter’s Bible).  They were deemed unclean, unfit to be counted among a people who considered themselves “a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Ex 19:6). “Leprosy” was a terrible disease because its victims were separated from their families and society.  Lepers were treated as sinners who were being punished by God with a contagious disease. The punishment given to Miriam (the complaining sister of Moses in Numbers 12:9-10), to Gehazi (the greedy servant of the prophet Elisha: “The leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever”-II Kings 5: 27) and to King Uzziah (for burning incense in the Temple, a right reserved for priests, Chronicles 26:19), supported this Jewish belief that leprosy was God’s punishment for sins.

Mosaic restrictions on lepers: The Mosaic Law, as given in Leviticus 13:44-46, demands that a) the priest shall declare the leper unclean; b) the leper shall keep his garments rent and his head bare; c) he shall muffle his beard; d) he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean’; and e) he shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.  The Book of Numbers (5:2-3) commands the Israelites “to put out of the camp everyone who is leprous.” Over 3000 words in Leviticus (chapters 13-14), govern the inspection of suspected lepers, their isolation, and the procedure for declaring the healed leper clean.  As a general rule, when a Jewish leper was healed, he had to go to the local priest for public confirmation that he was now clean and was permitted to return home and mix with the general public.

The parallels: The Fathers of the Church note three parallels between the Gospel story and the story of Naaman, the Gentile who was also healed of leprosy.  First, both Naaman and the Samaritan leper were foreigners who sought healing from a Godly Jew. Second, both were ordered to perform a small, seemingly irrelevant action. Elisha told Naaman to bathe in the river Jordan seven times. Jesus told the ten lepers to show themselves to the priest who could certify a healing. In both stories, healing took place only after they left His presence to obey. Third, both Naaman and the Samaritan returned to praise God.

The Samaritan hero: This incident recounting the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper is narrated only in Luke’s Gospel and provides an instance of Jesus holding up a non-Jew (Luke 17:18) as an example to his Jewish contemporaries. Moreover, it is the faith in Jesus manifested by the foreigner that has brought him salvation (Luke 17:19. (New American Bible notes). Here a Samaritan is presented as the model of Faith and gratitude. Luke was himself a Gentile, a foreigner, and so he delights in recounting stories of foreigners whom God has blessed.  A Samaritan is the hero of this episode.   The thanks and praise of the Samaritan was a natural response to the free and undeserved mercy of God.  The Samaritan knew that he was in the right place at the right time, and such an opportunity might never occur again for him. The Samaritan had not earned the kindness of God.  He simply asked for it–and it was freely given.  He knew he couldn’t earn it; he was an outcast, a Samaritan.  Having accepted God’s grace, thanks and praise was his natural response. Both the author of 2 Kings and the Evangelist Luke wanted to make an important theological point about outsiders. No story in all the Gospels so poignantly shows man’s ingratitude.  The lepers came to Jesus with desperate longing, and the merciful Lord cured them.  But nine of them never came back to give thanks.

Ingratitude and gratitude: In both the Old Testament and the New Testaments, God laments over man’s ingratitude.  “Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth, for the LORD speaks: Sons have I raised and reared, but they have disowned me!  An ox knows its owner, and an ass, its master’s manger; But Israel does not know, My people have not understood. Ah! Sinful nation, people laden with wickedness, evil race, corrupt children!  They have forsaken the LORD, spurned the Holy One of Israel and apostatized” (Isaiah; 1:2-4). “He came to what was his own, but his own people 7 did not accept him” (John 1:11).  Hence, the Word of God invites us to be thankful.  At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me” (John 11:41).  St. Paul advises us: “Give thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:20). “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).  Psalms 107:1 advises us: “Give thanks to the LORD Who is good, Whose love endures forever!” The medieval Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, suggests that if the only prayer we say in our lifetime is “Thank-You,” that would suffice. “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” (Johannes A. Gaertner). Are we, on a constant and consistent basis, offering our thanks to God by how we use our time, our talents, and our treasure as good stewards? “What is the chief goal of human life?” The Westminster Catechism asks in its opening question and answer. “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” is the answer. A chief way we do that is by thanking God moment by moment for the gifts that God has lavished upon us.

Gratitude at the Holy Mass: Fr. Roger Landry beautifully explains the connection between the Holy Mass and Jesus’ thanksgiving. Every Mass we’re called to grow in this spirit of thanksgiving, because the Eucharist is Jesus’ own prayer of Thanksgiving to the Father. The Greek word from which we derive the word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” During the Mass, the priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” Everyone responds, “It is right and just.” And then the priest replies with a saying of great theological depth: “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and ever-living God.” It’s right, it’s just, it’s fitting, it’s appropriate for us to give God thanks, “always and everywhere.” Before Jesus said the words of consecration on the night he would be betrayed, on the vigil of his crucifixion, he took bread and, as we’ll hear anew today, “gave thanks.” He gave thanks, because it is right always and everywhere, our duty and our salvation, to do so. He gave thanks because he was constantly thanking the Father. He gave thanks because he knew that the Father would bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil of all time which would happen to him after the Mass was done. He gave thanks because it would be through his passion, death and resurrection, that Jesus would institute the means by which we would be able to enter into his own relationship with the Father. The Mass is the school in which we participate in Jesus’ own thanksgiving, the thanksgiving the Church makes continuously from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Life Messages: 1) We need to learn to be thankful to God and to others. Often, we are ungrateful to God. Although we receive so much from Him, we often take it for granted, without appreciating His gifts.  We allow the negatives of our lives to hide from ourselves the blessings we have received — minor negatives like some health problems, financial worries, conflict with a neighbor or co-worker or spouse.   Besides, we are often thankful only when we compare ourselves with less fortunate people.  In times of need, we pray with desperate intensity; but as time passes, we forget God.  Many of us fail to offer a grace before meals or allot a few minutes of the day for family prayer.  God gave us his only Son, but we seldom give Him a word of thanks.  Often, we are ungrateful to our parents and consider them a nuisance, although in the past we were dependent on them for literally everything.  Similarly, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our friends, teachers, doctors, pastors–but we often fail to thank them.  Hence, in the future, let us be filled with daily thanksgiving to God and to others for the countless gifts we have received.  Let us show our gratitude to our forgiving God by forgiving others, and to a loving God by radiating His love, mercy and compassion to others.

2) We need to celebrate the Holy Eucharist as the supreme act of thanksgiving: The Greek word “Eucharist” means profoundly religious and thoroughly spiritual “thanksgiving.”  Thanksgiving is the attitude we should adopt in worshipWhen we celebrate Holy Mass together, we are thanking God for the great gift of His Son whose sacrifice formed us into the People of God.  We thank God for the gift of the Spirit, through Whom we bring the presence of the Lord to others.  Saying thanks to God together with the parish community, sharing our time, talents and material blessings in the parish and sharing the Heavenly Bread of Thanksgiving, the Holy Eucharist, are the simple forms of thanksgiving we can offer every Sunday in response to God’s blessings.  

3) Let us realize the truth that we all need healing from our spiritual leprosy. Although we may not suffer from physical leprosy, the “spiritual leprosy” of sin makes us unclean.  Jesus is our Savior who wants to heal us from this leprosy of sin.  Since Jesus is not afraid to touch our deepest impurities, let us not hide them.  Just as the lepers cried out to Jesus for healing, let us also ask Him to heal us from the spiritual leprosy of sins including impurity, injustice, hatred and prejudice.

JOKES OF THE WEEK

1) “The pigs don’t.” The story is told of a farmer who went into town for a little breakfast. As his meal was set before him, he bowed his head and offered a silent prayer. The man at the next table derided him, “Hey, does everybody do that where you come from?” “No,” said the farmer. “The pigs don’t.”

2) A high five and thanks.  Sally was thirty years old and had been married for seven years.  She lived in Atlanta and was very active in the parish, but she and her husband Jim had been unsuccessful in starting a family.  One day she visited her pastor and informed him that her engineer husband had taken a very good job with a reputable firm in Chicago.  Hence, they would be moving from Atlanta to Chicago.  Her pastor told her that he was going on a pilgrimage to Israel and assured her that he would light a candle at the birthplace of Jesus at Bethlehem for their special intention of being blessed with children.  Ten years later their former pastor, while on a tour of Chicago, was invited by Sally to visit her family.  When the pastor called on Sally he found to his great joy and astonishment that she was blessed with five children.  “Congratulations Sally, I am glad to learn that my candle at Bethlehem really worked,” he said.  After a while he enquired, “Where is your husband?””He’s gone to Bethlehem,” Sally replied, “to thank Jesus and to blow out that darn candle!”

4) “I can chew my food”: It was Thanksgiving season in the nursing home. The small resident population had been gathered around their humble Thanksgiving table, and the director asked each in turn to express one thing for which he or she was thankful. “Thanks” were expressed for a home in which to stay, families, etc. One little old lady, when her turn came, said, “I thank the Lord for two perfectly good teeth left in my mouth, one in my upper jaw and one in my lower jaw. They match so well that I can chew my food.”

5) Thanks to the guide: A man was lost in the woods. 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.”

6) None died: Two old friends met each other on the street one day. One looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, “What has the world done to you, my old friend? “The sad fellow said, “Let me tell you: three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars.” “That’s a lot of money.” But you see, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand dollars, free and clear.” “Sounds to me that you’ve been very blessed.”
“You don’t understand!” he interrupted. “Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million from her.“ Now the man’s friend was really confused. “Then, why do you look so glum?” “This week . . . no relative died!”

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

1) Saint of the day: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/sod-calendar/

2) Catholic Answers to frequently asked questions (EWTN): http://www.catholic.com/library/scripture_tradition.asp

3)      http://www.scripturecatholic.com/,- & http://www.olrl.org/doctrine/ Scriptural evidence for Catholic doctrines

4)     The Bible & its history: http://www.justcatholic.org/default2.asp?tree=2053

5) http://www.ecatechist.com/2013/08/p.html Website for CCD teachers

6) For the latest Vatican news, visit:

http://www.ewtnnews.com/headlines/vatican.php

7) Bible Church video homily by Rev. Ken Burge: https://youtu.be/E5JRkaLhklY

22 Additional anecdotes:

1) Empty bag of gratitude: There is an interesting story about two Angels who were sent to the Earth. The cries and petitions of the people reach the doorsteps of Heaven constantly. So once God decided that he should send the angels to the Earth to collect them directly from the people. Thus, two angels were sent to the Earth with carry bags. One was commissioned to collect all the petitions, and the other was asked to collect gratitude. The angel that was collecting the petitions found the bag full in minutes and flew up to heaven many times. But the angel that was collecting gratitude could not even fill a bag. (Fr. Bobby Jose)

2) Accept my sincere acknowledgments.” James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, is known as the Father of the American Constitution.  Madison was known for his spotless character. In his old age, the venerable ex-President suffered from many diseases, took a variety of medicines and managed to live a long life.  An old friend from the adjoining county of Albemarle sent him a box of vegetable pills and begged to be informed whether they helped him.  In due time Madison replied as follows: “My dear friend, I thank you very much for the box of pills.  I have taken them all, and while I cannot say that I am better since taking them, it is quite possible that I might have been worse if I had not taken them, and so I beg you to accept my sincere acknowledgments.”

3) “Not one of them ever thanked me.” From off the coast of Evanston Illinois there comes the story of a shipwreck. The students of Northwestern University came to the rescue. One student, Edward Spenser, personally saved the lives of 17 persons that day. Years later a reporter was writing a follow-up story on the event, and went to interview the now elderly Spenser. When asked what was the one thing that stood out about the incident in his mind; Spenser replied: “I remember that of the seventeen people I saved that day, not one of them ever thanked me.”

4) “I can’t tell you how much your letter meant to me.” In the book A Window on the Mountain, Winston Pierce tells of his high school class reunion. A group of the old classmates were reminiscing about things and persons they were grateful for. One man mentioned that he was particularly thankful for Mrs. Wendt, for she, more than anyone, had introduced him to Tennyson and the beauty of poetry. Acting on a suggestion, the man wrote a letter of appreciation to Mrs. Wendt and addressed it to the high school. The note was forwarded and eventually found the old teacher. About a month later the man received a response. It was written in a feeble longhand and read as follows: “My dear Willie, I can’t tell you how much your letter meant to me. I am now in my nineties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and like the last leaf of fall lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught school for forty years and yours is the first letter of appreciation I ever received. It came on a blue, cold morning and it cheered me as nothing has for years. Willie, you have made my day.” Let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you” (Philemon 4: 4).

5) “That’s all the more reason we ought to give in thanks.” In a little Church, there were the father and mother of a young man killed in a military battle. One day, they came to the pastor and told him they wanted to give a monetary gift as a memorial to their son who died in battle. The pastor said, “That’s a wonderful gesture on your part.” He asked if it was okay to tell the congregation, and they said that it was. The next Sunday he told the congregation of the gift given in memory of the dead son. On the way home from Church, another couple was driving down the highway when the father said to his wife, “Why don’t we give a gift because of our son?” And his wife said, “But our son didn’t die in any conflict! Our son is still alive!” Her husband replied, “That’s exactly my point! That’s all the more reason we ought to give in thanks to God.” We too often build fences around forgiveness, faith, duty, and gratitude. In passages like this one, Jesus encourages us to remove those fences in order to achieve the possibilities of the Christian life.

6) “I’m thankful I’m going to see my grandmother.” On the radio, a reporter was conducting one of those man-in-the-street interviews. Out among the pedestrians he was asking, “What are you thankful for?” Some were grateful for their health. Some gave thanks because they had good jobs to provide for their families. One lady whispered in broken English, “Much happy to live in America.” One man was even thankful because the doctor said he could eat all the turkey he wanted. But the most enchanting remark of all was that of a wee little girl who said, “I’m thankful I’m going to see my grandmother so I can tell her how much I love her.” Now that is really thanksgiving. It is going beyond mere “thanksgetting” and thanksgiving. It is taking your eyes off yourself and focusing on another.

7) “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food.” Greg Anderson, in Living Life on Purpose, tells a story about a man whose wife had left him. He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God–he found no joy in living. One rainy morning this man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon. In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, “Momma, why don’t we say our prayers here?” The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, “Sure, honey, we can pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?” And she turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, “Bow your heads.” Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen.” That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, “We should do that every morning.” “All of a sudden,” said our friend, “my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl’s example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stopped majoring in all that I didn’t have. I started to be grateful.”

8) Be grateful for Christian Faith: There is a story about a Monastery in Portugal. The monastery is perched high on a 300 foot cliff. The only way the monastery can be reached is by a terrifying ride in a swaying basket, attached to a single rope pulled by several strong monks. One day an American tourist was about to ride up in the basket. However, he became very nervous when he noticed that the rope was quite old and quite frayed. Timidly, he asked: “How often do you change the rope?” One of the monks replied: “Whenever it breaks!!!” Many people today treat Faith like that. They never turn to Faith until something breaks. But, thank God, there are others who realize that the Christian Faith is a life-style that works in practical daily living. It is not just some last resort. It is the way to live. It is the way to relate to other people. It is the way to serve and honor God.

9) Thanks, But No Thanks! Three men were fishing on a lake one day, when Jesus walked across the water and joined them in the boat.  When the three astonished men had settled down enough to speak, the first man asked humbly, “Jesus, I’ve suffered from back pain ever since I lifted a very heavy long-range gun in the Viet Nam war.  Could you help me?”  “Of course, My son,” Jesus said.  When Jesus touched the man’s back, the man felt relief for the first time in years. The second man, who wore very thick glasses and had a hard time reading and driving, asked if Jesus could do anything about his eyesight.  Jesus smiled, removed the man’s glasses and tossed them in the lake.  When the glasses hit the water, the man’s eyesight cleared up and he could see everything distinctly.  Then Jesus turned to the third man.  “What can I do for you?” he asked.  At this, the man put up his hands defensively and cried:   “Don’t touch me!  I’m on long-term disability.”

10) Song of Norway. There was a beautiful motion picture a few years ago entitled, Song of Norway. It was about Edvard Grieg’s struggle to succeed as a composer. Grieg had a friend who assisted him during the time of struggle. Indeed, Grieg’s friend poured his life into making this brilliant young composer a success. Later this friend lay dying and he sent word to Edvard, “Come see me.” But Edvard was now a star. There were concerts and receptions and famous people to meet and Edvard never made it back to his friend’s bedside. Edvard Grieg may have been a great composer, but as a man, his life was surely lacking.

11) Empty thank-you basket: There is an ancient legend about two angels who flew to earth to gather people’s prayers. Wherever people bowed in prayer by their bedside at night, in a chapel, or on the side of a mountain the angels stopped and gathered the prayers into their baskets. Before long the basket carried by one of the angels grew heavy with the weight of what he had collected, but that of the other remained almost empty. Into the first were put prayers of petition. “Please give me this….Please I want that.” Into the other went the “Thank you” prayers. “Your basket seems very light,” said one angel to the other. “Yes,” replied the one who carried the ‘Thank-you’ prayers. “People are usually ready enough to pray for what they want, but very few remember to thank God when He grants their requests.”

12) “Now Thank We All Our God.” You can even be thankful during the most difficult of circumstances in life. It’s true! Imagine a man who conducted forty to fifty funerals a day, burying nearly 4500 people in one year. Among those dying would be his wife. Towards the end, the deaths would be so frequent that the bodies would just be placed in trenches, without burial rites. Imagine also that this brave person would be so thankful for these experiences that he’d write one of the Church’s most popular hymns, “Now Thank We All Our God,” sung by Christians of all denominations. This particular hymn was written in Germany in the early 1600s during the Thirty Years’ War. Its author was Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor in the town of Eilenburg in Saxony. He lived in a walled city, the walls being the reason it was a place of hiding for thousands of refugees. The over-crowding brought on the epidemic of plague and famine. All other officials and pastors fled, leaving Rinkart alone to care for the dying. The war dragged on; the suffering continued. Yet through it all, he never lost courage or Faith, and even during the darkest days of Eilenburg’s agony, he was able to write this hymn because he kept his mind on God’s love when the world was filled with hate. He kept his mind on God’s promises of Heaven when the earth was a living Hell: Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, In whom the world rejoices …[So] keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills, in this world and the next. [Christopher Idle, Stories of Our Favorite Hymns, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1980), p. 19.)]

13) “Thank-you doctor!”: Some years ago I visited a doctor friend of mine. He was almost crying with joy. He showed me an envelope which contained an amount of money and a letter which said, “Doctor, when I was sick you helped me and never asked for anything because you knew that I could not pay. I have just landed a fairly good job. I am sending you something from my first pay packet just to say, ‘thank you’.” My doctor friend commented, “You do not often meet that kind of gratitude!” (Father Gerry Pierse)

14) Schindler’s List: Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist, who, during World War II, single-handedly and tenaciously saved thousands of Polish Jews from the horrors and brutalities of incarceration in the diabolical concentration camps. As the war ended, the defeated Germans pulled out of Poland and the people eagerly awaited the arrival of the Russians. But just before the Russians arrived, Oskar Schindler, fearing for his safety, decided to flee westwards as well. When word got around that Oskar Schindler was planning to leave, the people he saved rallied together and began to discuss ways and means to express their heartfelt gratitude. But they had little to offer him. Suddenly, one man opened his mouth and pointed to the gold bridge-work on his teeth. “Take this please, and give it to Oskar.” That was indeed a very noble gesture, but the people would not hear of it. “Please,” begged the man, “please take it away. Were it not for Oskar, the SS would have taken it anyway. And my teeth would have been in a heap in some SS warehouse, along with the golden fangs of many others.” So the people agreed. One of them who was a dentist in Cracow, extracted the gold. He passed it on to a jeweler, who melted it and fashioned a ring. On the inner rim of that ring, he inscribed the following words from the Talmud, “The one who saves a single life saves the entire world.”
(James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

15) “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway!”: One night at 11:30 p.m., an older African-American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960’s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away… God Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.” Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole. (Nat King Cole was a great American Musician). Fr Eugene Lobo S.J.

16) Attitude of Gratitude: Some years ago, the movie What About Bob? came out. It humorously depicted a division of humanity between those who were grateful and those ungrateful. Richard Dreyfuss starred as a psychologist who has everything: a lovely wife and children, a dream house, a successful practice and a best-selling book which gives advice for problem solving. But the psychologist himself has a problem: nothing makes him happy. By way of contrast, he has a patient named Bob who possesses very little, but shows a dog-like gratitude for any scrap he receives. Played by Bill Murphy, Bob winds up at the psychiatrist’s home as an uninvited dinner guest. He savors each item of food, loudly expressing his satisfaction. Unaccustomed to such gratefulness, the wife is pleased, but her husband grows more and more irritated until he finally explodes, slamming his fists on the table and telling Bob to be quiet. – Our genuine happiness lies not in what we achieve, but in how we receive. A sense of accomplishment is important, but much more significant is having an attitude of gratitude. Our ability to receive the great gift of Faith depends on our attitude of gratitude.
(John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word).

17) Best of Gifts: There is a huge fortress on a hill overlooking the town of Weinsberg in Germany. One day far back in feudal times, the fortress was surrounded by the enemy. The commander of the enemy troops agreed to let all women and children leave the fortress. He also agreed to allow each woman take one valuable possession with her. Imagine the amazement and frustration of the commander when he saw each woman leave the fortress with her husband on her back! Charity begins at home. The hardest place to practice the Gospel is at home in my own house. (Jack McArdle in And that’s the Gospel Truth!)

18) Ingratitude is capital offense: In his best known work, Gulliver’s Travels, Dublin-born poet and satirist, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) invited his contemporaries to confront the dark, seamy side of human nature. Through the exploits of his featured character, Gulliver, and his travels to four imaginary lands, Swift exposed the malice and venality of society, the frivolity of its intellectual concerns and its repeated failures, both as regards virtue and wisdom. By way of contrast, Swift offered the example of the society of the Lilliputians among whom such shortcomings as ingratitude were regarded as criminal. In a description of the law in Lilliput, he wrote: “Ingratitude is reckoned among them as a capital offense; for they reason thus, that whoever makes ill return to his benefactors must needs be a common enemy to the rest of mankind, from whom he had received no obligation. And, therefore, such a man is not fit to live”(sic). Swift admitted in a letter to his friend, Alexander Pope, that he used his pen so harshly in order to “vex the world rather than divert it.” Could it be that the Lucan evangelist included the narrative of the nine ungrateful lepers who were healed by Jesus to similarly vex his readers? Inasmuch as many of us are, at times, culpable of such ingratitude, then perhaps a certain degree of vexation, i.e., discomfort, is warranted. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez)

19) Mountain-moving faith: An old woman regularly read the Bible before retiring at night. One day she came across the passage that said: “If you have Faith as little as a mustard seed and ask the mountain to go away, it will go.” She decided to test the efficacy of the passage as there was a hillock behind her house. She commanded the hillock to go away from there and went to bed. In the morning she got up as usual and remembered her command to the hillock. She wore her spectacles and peered through the window. The hillock was there. Then she muttered to herself, “Ah! That’s what I thought.” – What she thought was that the mountain would not move. While her outer mind gave the command, her inner mind was convinced that she was giving a futile order. She did not have even an atom of faith!
(G. Francis Xavier in The World’s Best Inspiring Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

20) Kindness and gratitude: One day, so says an old legend, God gave a banquet for all his servants, and a really grand feast it was. All the virtues came and had a fine time. Humility was there, sitting in the lowest place at the table. Patience was there and didn’t mind at all being served last. Faith and Hope sat together on one side, while Justice and Peace sat together on the other side. Everyone was having a wonderful time. At the height of the banquet, Charity noticed that two of the virtues were strangers to each other. He was surprised because he thought they were always together, and he had purposely placed them side by side for that reason. He came down to them and asked each one whether she had met her partner before. When they said they had not, Charity introduced them, Kindness, I want you to meet Gratitude.” Both the virtues were so surprised to find out who the other was. Kindness said to gratitude, “We are supposed to be together always. Where one of us is, the other should be. Isn’t it a pity that we have never really met before.” Yes, Kindness and Gratitude are supposed to be together always. Where one is, there the other should also be. (Fr. Lakra).

21) The presence of God who gives healing and consolation in our afflictions: The following story illustrates the presence of God who gives healing and consolation in our afflictions (cf. Julie Garmon, “Fearless: What Prayer Can do” in GUIDEPOSTS, June 2010, p. 86). I couldn’t believe what my doctor was telling me. “I need to monitor you closely, Julie, for whatever might come next.” I had just been diagnosed with two autoimmune disorders – celiac disease and Sjogren’s Syndrome. What more could happen? “I wish I could be more definite, Julie”, my doctor continued. “But autoimmune illnesses cause the body to attack healthy tissue. They are really quite unpredictable.” As I let his office, I felt a cold rush of fear. How could I live like this? The minute I got home; I went looking for help on the internet. The information there was even more vague and frightening. By bedtime, my mind was whirling with negative thoughts. My body was under attack from itself. How could that be? I couldn’t close my eyes until I’d said a prayer. Oh. God, I feel so alone. So vulnerable. Help me know that you are with me. In the morning I was still so preoccupied with worry that I barely made it to my yoga class in time. I walked in, took a swig from my water bottle and tried to calm down. As Velda, our instructor led us through the poses, I breathed deeply to clear my mind. Today, that was impossible. At the end of the class I lay tense on my mat, my mind racing. All was quiet. Then Velda did something totally unexpected, something she had never done in the year I had been taking her class. “Our Father, who art in heaven …” she began to recite. She was ending the class with the Lord’s Prayer! Others soon joined in. The sound of those voices praying soothed me deeply. My mind cleared. The tension in my shoulder eased. The knot in my stomach disappeared. Peace filled me. I made sure to thank Velda. “I needed that prayer more than the yoga today”, I told her. “You know, I didn’t plan to do that”, she said. “But something told me I just had to say it.” Or Someone. I rolled up my mat and headed home. I knew that no matter what the future held, God, not fear, would be leading me through it.

 

22) Shirley Caesar Lyrics: “No Charge” (https://youtube/CJAfz-Pvfrw)

My sister’s little boy came in the kitchen one evening
While she was fixing supper
And he handed her a piece paper he had been writing on
And after wiping her hands on an apron
She took the letter in her hands and read it
And this is what it said:

For mowing the yard, five dollars
And for making up my own bed this week, one dollar
For going to the store, fifty cents
And playing with little brother while you went shopping, twenty five cents
Taking out the trash, one dollar
And for getting a good report card, five dollars
And for raking the yard, two dollars
Total owed, fourteen seventy five

Well she looked at him standing there expecting
And a thousand memories began to flash through her mind
So she picked up the pen and she turned the letter over
And this is what she wrote to that little boy:

For the 9 months I carried you growing inside of me, no charge
For the nights I sat up with you doctored you and prayed for you, no charge
For the time and tears and the costs through the years, there is no charge
When you add it all, up the real cost of my love is no charge

For the nights filled with dread and the worries ahead, no charge
For the advice and the knowledge and the costs of your college, no charge
For the toys, food, and clothes and for wiping your nose, there’s no charge my son
When you add it all the real cost of my love is no charge

After that Mom finished talking to that little boy
He looked up at her with grand big ol’ tears in his eyes
And he said, Mama, I sure do love you
And then he reached out and he got the letter and he turned it over
And he wrote in grand big words:
Paid in full

When you add it all the real cost of my love is no charge

J+ 1 good leper leper jesus-10-lepers-tim

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 51) by Fr. Tony:akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website: By clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (or using Google Search) for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith“ Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only atakadavil@gmail.com. Click on http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily and  the CBCI website https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text. for a full version Or https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under Fr. Tony or under CBCI for my website version. (Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604).