I. Homily 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time- October 8, 2016
II. Gratitude and Personal Responsibility
A. Gratitude is a constant theme in the scripture readings today.
1. Our first reading has Naaman giving thanks for having been cured of leprosy.
2. Our second reading has Saint Paul grateful for having been found worthy of being imprisoned and mistreated for His relationship with Jesus Christ.
3. Our third reading exalts the one leper who returned to our Lord for His cure of leprosy.
B. Yet, these examples of gratitude are not just gratitude for a gift given. This is a very specific type of gratitude.
1. This is gratitude to God for life.
2. Each of these receives life…and they know life is a gift given by God.
3. They have received no mean gift and so the gratitude given runs deep.
III. Although Gratitude to God is an obvious lesson, there is another lesson lurking in all of these scripture readings which might be missed.
A. For the gift is given with the cooperation of the receiver.
1. Although the passage from our first reading recounts Naaman giving thanks for his cure, you might remember that the cure required Naaman cooperating with the Lord.
a) Naaman was told by God’s prophet, go and bath in the waters of the Jordan river and Naaman balked at this…stating that the rivers of Syria were far better than that of the Jordan river.
b) It was only when his young Jewish slave girl came to him and pointed out that “if God had given him some great quest to do, would he not have done it?”
c) It was only after some honest coaxing that Naaman went and washed in the Jordan river…by the way, the same place where Saint John would later baptize Jesus.
d) The cure required that Naaman take personal responsibility for His cure.
2. Our second reading today is a reading from the 2nd Letter of Timothy.
a) This is one of the so-called pastoral epistles not because they are about how to tend sheep grazing in a field but because they are letters from Saint Paul to a young pastor on how to be a pastor…how to be a shepherd of the sheep that are people.
b) This particular letter is written by Saint Paul while he is in prison in Rome to Timothy, a young pastor appointed by him as bishop of Ephesus.
c) What he is telling Timothy is that the primary role of the pastor is to lead in the same way Christ lead…he lead by being imprisoned and giving his life on the cross…Saint Paul is grateful for the opportunity of being imprisoned for Jesus Christ and is taking responsibility for having committed the horrible crime of preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The primary role of the pastor is not to preach, not to teach, but to sacrifice himself. This requires that he take responsibility for what he believes.
3. What about personal responsibility in the Gospel passage?
a) It would seem that the lesson here is neither one of gratitude nor personal responsibility because the 9 lepers who did not thank our Lord for his cure got off scott-free.
(1) True that all 10 lepers asked for the cure but only one returned to give thanks to God.
(2) If personal responsibility is a lesson here, then wouldn’t we expect that there be some repercussion for those cured lepers who did not give thanks?
b) There is no reason to believe that after the 9 did not thank our Lord that our Lord in any way revoked His gift to them for our God is a merciful and loving God; however, there is still a question that is unanswered.
c) Our ultimate goal on this earth is not health and well-being simply in the here and now, we must also be concerned with the hereafter.
(1) At the end of their lives, when those 9 stood before the throne of heaven, what were they asked?
(2) We do not know…the reason we do not know is because our Lord wants us to ask that same question in the here and now.
(3) What will I be asked when I stand before the throne of heaven?
(4) Was I grateful for the gifts He gave to me?
(5) Did I take responsibility for my life and my faith?
4. Indeed, just because we have a merciful and loving God, this does not dispense us from taking responsibility for our actions.
a) We live in a world that is broken.
b) A world in which the just are punished and the unjust rewarded.
c) A world in which bad things happen to good people and good things to the bad.
d)There is no doubt. This is the reason our Lord came…to save us from our sins, but this requires our cooperation…what we do in the here and now does have eternal repercussions…exactly because God is love and our relationship of friendship with Him is the source of our salvation.
IV. Gratitude and Personal Responsibility
A. We are often concerned with the way others treat us, the truth is that we should be far more concerned with our own behavior.
B. Let us give thanks to God for so many gifts given and let us take responsibility for our actions and for our faith.