Gospel Thoughts for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
You know what bothers me: Christians who belong to certain non-denominational churches or sects. You know the ones I’m talking about: churches that pop up like mushrooms in the forest, with the white-toothed preacher selling religion whose only college degree is in sales and marketing. What about television evangelists who brainwash people into accepting Jesus as their savior so that they will donate lots of money to their ministry because they believe this will keep them out of hell? Many preachers tell you that only your faith can save you, but they still want your money. But is our faith enough to save us?
Salvation is Complex:
A saving faith is one that transforms your life completely.
The lepers in the Gospel for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 13, 2019) believed that Jesus could heal them. They had faith in his healing power. But only one returned to express his gratefulness to the Savior. Jesus told him, “Your faith has saved you.”
Leprosy is a horrible affliction. Most cases of leprosy are contagious. In first century Galilee, lepers were considered to be unclean and not in favor with God. They were cast out from society and banned from public. That is why the ten “stood at a distance and called out to Jesus”. Jesus told them to show themselves to the priest and they obeyed. On their way they were healed, which meant they could return to normal Palestinian life. But from those ten lepers, one returned to Jesus and fell at his feet. The man was a Samaritan, a non-Jew, and a foreigner. As a rule, Jews and Samaritans had no use for each other. Maybe it was for this reason that he felt compelled to return to Jesus. For him it was probably an awakening as he sensed on some deeper level what had happened and who had healed him. And it was this faith that not only healed him, but saved him.
A truly grateful heart is one that acknowledges the saving work of the Lord; it changes us, and the way we live. It is one that transforms us. A grateful heart makes us return to him glorifying him for the work he has done and the gifts he has given us. It is one that makes us fall to our knees.
In Matthew 7:16, Jesus said that “by their fruit you will know them…every good tree bares good fruit……”. That tree is our faith and the fruit is our works. For us this means that it’s not enough to agree that Jesus is the Son of God and expect that alone will get you into heaven. It takes more than that. We must live according the teaching of Jesus, model our lives after him which in turn will produce good fruit. We cannot produce good fruit ourselves and it will not grow without God’s grace. To produce good fruit we must be large and strong, with roots that are deep and able to withstand every kind of weather.
The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving. When we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we do it as a community, giving thanks to the God who has filled our lives with an over abundance of gifts.
But how thankful are we? Do we really show our gratitude? The leper in the gospel, this foreigner, threw himself at Jesus’ feet and his faith saved him. We too can have this saving faith when we glorify God in a loud voice and allow Jesus Christ to transform our lives!
In the Eucharist Celebration, the priest prepares the meal that Jesus gave to us, the gift of his body and blood. In the Mass we pray together and embrace the Bread of Life. In the Church we fall to our knees glorifying and praising Christ for what he has done. Maybe he isn’t saving us from leprosy or other incurable disease, but he saved us from something much bigger. He saved us from hell and eternal suffering. The question left for each of us is what kind of leper will we be: one of the nine that walk away? Or will we fall on our knees in gratitude and change our lives? Fr. Urs