Homily for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Trust and Obey God for Your Healing
By: Fr. Evaristus Abu
Homily for Sunday October 13 2019
(Read 2 Kings 5:14-17, Psalm 98, 2 Timothy 2:8-13 and Luke 17:11-19)
“When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14)
Last Sunday, Jesus said to us: “If your faith is as a mustard seed, you can say to this sycamore tree, Be uprooted and planted in the sea and it will obey you.” Faith is the assurance of things not seen and the reward of faith is to see those things. Last Sunday, we also learned that Faith is patience even in tough times. Today, our readings present other dimensions of faith such as obedience to God’s word and thanksgiving.
1. To Have Faith is to be obedient to God’s Word.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus gave the ten lepers an instruction: “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” This was a very unusual miracle. Jesus did not declare healing on them, he did not do any physical sign on them, he simply gave them a command. They were healed as they obeyed. In the same way, in our first reading, Naaman the Syrian received healing by obeying the instruction of the prophet Elisha. Initially, he tried to protest against the instruction stating that there are cleaner rivers in his place, but upon the persuasion of his maid, he obeyed and became cleansed.
As the very popular hymn sings:
When we walk with the Lord in the Light of the word
What a glory he sheds on our way
While we do His good will, He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey
Trust and Obey, for there is no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away
Not a doubt or a fear, nor a sign not a tear,
Can abide when we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay
Not a grief, nor a loss, not a crown or a cross
But is blest if we trust and obey.
As Jesus told the woman in yesterday’s Gospel passage: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:28). We cannot claim to believe in God when we refuse to obey Him (when we refuse to be doers of the word.) Every sin a statement of our lack of trust in God. The only reason why we think it is okay to disobey God is that we do not think God was right in saying we would be blessed for obeying Him.
Some of us Christians today treat God as if He is a toy. How can we deny God by our lifestyle and still expect Him to grant us the favours we so desire? In our second reading, St. Paul tells Timothy: “If we endure, we shall also reign with him, if we deny him, he also will deny us.” (2 Timothy 2:11-12) How can we deny God by our willful disobedience and still hope to claim our miracle? How can we refuse to do what he tells us and still expect our water to turn to wine? (Cf. John 2:5-10) What would have been the fate of the ten lepers if they had ignored Jesus’ instruction? What would have been the fate of Naaman if he had disobeyed the word of God that came through the lips of the prophet Elisha?
2. Thanksgiving Opens Us to More Blessings.
Only one out of the ten lepers returned to Jesus to say “Thank you.” Jesus asked: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” This is a sad tale of human behaviour. Only one out of ten was grateful. Why is it that we have faith to ask from God, but we don’t have faith to thank God after He has blessed us? Ten lepers were cured but only one received wholeness. For returning thanks, Jesus said to him: “Your faith has made you well.” There is always an additional blessing we get for being grateful to God.
When we hear the word “thanksgiving” our minds often go to the food items, groceries, household utensils or money we present in the Church, but I dare say that these are not the essence of thanksgiving. The man who came to return thanks to Jesus, how many bags of rice did he bring? How much did he put in an envelope? Nothing. Not even one denarius. What did he bring? Worship. Loud Praises. It is wrong to squeeze your face while marching to the altar for thanksgiving. It is not the amount of money you have or the items you are bringing that matters, what counts is your acknowledgement of who God is. Dance; smile, open your mouth and sing praises, prostrate before God. You are not paying God; everything you have will not be enough to pay God. You are not being forced so, let your thanksgiving come from your heart even if you have nothing to offer.
Naaman brought a whole camel load of gifts items to Elisha but he refused to take anything so that Naaman would not think that he (Elisha) was the one who cured him. Elisha needed to direct Naaman’s attention to God. And it worked. Naaman took two mules full of sand saying: “Your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord.” Naaman’s thanksgiving was his conversion. Thanksgiving is not all about money; we give thanks too by living holy lives, we give thanks by our repentance. We give thanks first and foremost by our sincere worship of God, all other items we bring are secondary and not important. Stop squeezing your face, please! It is to God you are rendering thanks, not the priest.
3. The Symbolic Value of the Cure of the Ten Lepers.
The cure of the ten lepers is not just one of the many miracles of Jesus, in fact, we may call it a CHRISTOLOGICAL miracle; it is a miracle that proved beyond every doubt that Jesus Christ is God. When we read the background story behind our first reading (2 Kings chapter 5 from verse 1), we discover that when Naaman was sick of leprosy and his maid suggested he could be cured by the Prophet Elisha, Naaman went to the king of Syria who in turn sent a letter to the King of Israel demanding for Naaman’s cure. In 2 Kings 5:7 we read: And when the king of Israel read the letter, he rent his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”
As Dr Pitre Brant explains: in those days, leprosy was the ultimate sickness. It was beyond any known medical cure. Curing a leper was something that only God could do. Never was it heard that anyone could cure a person of leprosy. By renting his clothes, the King of Israel was already mourning over the possible war that was coming if Naaman could not be cured. Elisha upon hearing this, sent word to the king that Naaman should be brought to him. This cure of Naaman was clear proof that Elisha received a double portion of the spirit of Elijah who went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (2 Kings 2:11).
Elijah was so famous that many believed he would come again before the Messiah comes. In Matthew 17:10-13 the disciples asked Jesus about this, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” Jesus replied, “Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things, but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. Now if John the Baptist is Elijah, it means that Jesus Christ is Elisha and if Elisha in all his greatness facilitated the cure of just one leper by asking him to bathe in the Jordan seven times, here is Jesus curing Ten lepers simply by asking them to show themselves to the priest. The lepers were still on their way when they realized they had been cured. What does this say about Jesus? Here is God Himself in the midst of men.
Like these lepers, we all are sick with one ailment or another. We carry different forms of leprosy ranging from family problems, financial problems to even spiritual problems. Are you suffering from the leprosy of addiction to sin? Turn to Jesus today. He alone can Heal You. Shout like the lepers, “Jesus, have mercy on me.” The lepers believed that Jesus could cure them. Their Father prompted their obedience to Jesus’ command. They received healing because they obeyed. However, one received something more than healing; one was made well because he returned to give thanks. Sincere thanksgiving is not a matter of offering items or enclosing large sums in envelopes, it is a matter of worshipping God from your heart; it is living a life of obedience to God; it is a decision to serve no other god as Naaman did.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, have mercy on me. Cleanse me from all my sins especially my ingratitude and lack of trust in your Word. Amen.
Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. 2 Kings 5:14-17, Psalm 98, 2 Timothy 2:8-13 and Luke 17:11-19).