28TH SUNDAY: Luke 17:11-19
The main theme of today’s readings is gratitude and the expression of gratitude that God expects from each of us. In the gospel reading, we heard that Jesus entered a village and ten lepers came out to greet Jesus. They were considered “unclean,” so they stood away from the people. When they saw Jesus, they raised their voices and cried out: “Jesus, master! Have pity on us!” These ten lepers were moved by faith to approach Jesus for healing. Only one of them was enlightened by his faith to give thanks. Jesus told them, “Rise up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.”
In today’s gospel, we can notice that until the lepers were healed, they prayed in the same faith and in the same voice. Even though the Jews and the Samaritans were considered to be enemies, the illnesses and sufferings of these ten lepers united them, and they prayed with the same voice and came to Jesus together, without looking at any differences between them. In our lives too, tragedies, crises, and serious illnesses of family members bring unity and a peaceful atmosphere.
After they were healed, nine of the lepers moved in a different direction. They had forgotten their style of prayer and the person, who had healed them. Only one person, who was a Samaritan, came back and expressed his deepest thanks to God. In our lives also, the same thing sometimes happens; we pray very seriously and faithfully for material things and happiness. Once we have received these things, we forget our lifestyle of prayer and the way by which we came. This story helps us to understand and differentiate real faith from superficial devotion; also, we should not forget the way we came!
The ten lepers had great devotion, but only one had real faith and devotion. The other nine, after they were healed, practiced superficial religion by visiting the religious leaders. Those who have only outwardly pious practices do things in this same way. They want to show their practices to other people in the church. Today, Jesus asks the same kind of questions to each of us: “Were not all ten made clean? Where are the other nine?”
Let me share with you a meaningful story about a blind boy, who sat on the roadside with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign, on which was written: “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in his hat. A man walked by and he took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. Then he took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the words. Soon, the hat began to fill up and more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon, the man, who had changed the sign, came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked the man, “What did you write?” The man said, “I only wrote the truth. What you wrote, I wrote, in a different way.” I wrote, “Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it.” Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people that they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?
We have to be thankful and appreciative for what we have, and we have to be creative! Always, think differently and positively with an attitude of gratitude! Enjoy our every day with hearts of gratitude and live life to the fullest! Yes, we all need to be cleansed, to be healed, and to be made whole, human persons. We need to see that for God there are absolutely no lepers and no outsiders. Let us express our gratitude to God by forgiving, loving, and showing our mercy and compassion to others! Let us remember the words of St. Mother Teresa, “Many of our blessings are hidden treasures! Count your blessings and not your troubles!”