HOMILY FOR THE 28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: RESPONDING TO GOD’S FAVOR
BY: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 9 2022
God is full of mercy and kindness. He alone can touch the untouchable. He alone can befriend the stigmatized. A friend to the friendless. With open arms He can give a warm embrace to our leprous body. He is a good God.
Today, we are presented with the stories of leprous men. In the First Reading, Naaman, the Syrian Commander is presented, and the Gospel presents that of the 10 lepers whose names are not mentioned. The story of Naaman and how he comes to be healed by Elisha, the prophet, is one full of lessons which we cannot exhaust in one sermon. Let’s make do with the aftermath of his healing miracle that restores his flesh to that of a new born child. That is to say, God gives him a brand new skin from heaven through the prophetic instruction. How powerful should be the words of a prophet! The Word of God is potent enough to produce its desired results but where will the Word be without the lips of a prophet? Elisha is the man of his time, a trusted bearer of God’s oracles. His fame has gone abroad as far as Syria. No wonder the Bible says that where there is no vision the people perish (Prov29:18). Naaman, with all his portfolios, couldn’t deal with his leprosy. He needs a prophet to inquire of the Lord. That’s a right move in a right direction. Elisha, as we know, asked Elijah for twice as much as his spirit; Elijah said it was a difficult request (2 Kgs 2.9). The Midrash says Elijah did eight miracles and Elisha sixteen. The healing of Naaman is one of them. After his healing, Naaman response with much gratitude. Though his gesture is turned down, he requests to be allowed to stoop to scoop from the sand of Israel as a testament of gratitude to the God of Israel.
1. THE CONDITION OF A LEPROUS MAN
Leprosy is a chronic, infectious disease characterized by sores, scabs, and white shining spots beneath the skin… From the skin the disease eats inward to the bones, rotting the whole body [little by little]…” We have the description of the disease, as well as the regulations connected with it, in Lev. 13; 14; Num. 12:10–15, etc. A person who acquired leprosy lived a horrible existence. It was bad enough that your physical body rotted slowly away, but even worst “This disease was regarded as an awful punishment from the Lord (2 Kings 5:7; 2 Chr. 26:20). A leper was looked down upon by all his peers since according to tradition God was punishing that person for something.
Naaman’s case is different from that of the 10 men in the Gospel because Naaman is not socially ostracised because he always hides it from the King and his countrymen until he divulged his condition to his king. But the 10 lepers were ostracised.
Lepers could no longer function in normal society. They are required to live outside the camp or city” (Num. 5:1–4; 12:10–15). Easton’s Bible Dictionary states that, “In Christ’s day no leper could live in a walled town, though he might in an open village. But wherever he was he was required to have his outer garment rent as a sign of deep grief, to go bareheaded, and to cover his beard with his mantle, as if in lamentation at his own virtual death. He had further to warn passers-by to keep away from him, by calling out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ Nor could he speak to any one, or receive or return a salutation.”
There is no doubt that these lepers had heard of Jesus… The news about Jesus had spread all over the area. Mark 1:28 says that Jesus “…fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.” How long had these lepers waited for Jesus to go by their area? On that day when they saw the commotion in the area they knew something was up. Jesus was going by. This was their golden opportunity!
According to Jewish Law the priests were the ones responsible to diagnose leprosy (Leviticus 13:2-14:32). Jesus instructs them to go see the priest. But, in the actual real sense, He is “The Priest”.
It is interesting to note that the ten lepers obeyed Jesus. They did not argue with him. They trusted Jesus, just as the stewards at the wedding at Cana did with the cup of water. This is a good lesson for us to learn. It is God’s way, not our way.
2. THE MIRACLE (Luke 17:14b)
As the ten lepers made their way to the priest something extraordinary happened. They were healed! The sores, scabs, and white shining spots all over their body vanished. All the rotten flesh in them was restored to healthy flesh. They receive d brand new skins from heaven. What an incredible event!
Can you imagine how they felt? Their minds were racing with emotion. Now they could go back into society, back to their families. They were no longer going to be looked down upon as those who were being punished by God. Without a doubt they had experienced a divine miracle. The world of hopelessness they lived in had turned into a bright day of hope.
3. THE RESPONSES
9 were overcome by joy that they forgot to go back and thank the One who cured them. Only one did. But before we judge them too harshly, what is our own “GQ”—“Gratitude Quotient”? How often do we take our blessings for granted and fail to thank the Lord? ‘Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!’ (Ps. 107:8). Too often we are content to enjoy the gift but we forget the Giver. We are quick to pray but slow to praise.
Let’s look back to where it all started. The place our story changed. The person God sent to bring us to Him. Gratitude is the ultimate point be be after receiving a favor either from God or from man. Let us learn to say, “Thanks” Like Naaman and the grateful leprous man!
Happy Sunday to you all!