HOMILY FOR THE 28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: The ultimate response to God’s benevolence
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 9 2022
God’s attitude towards us is always fundamentally that of love and mercy for which we know God to be infinitely benevolent. The whole History of Salvation testifies to this fact as we can see in the Sacred Scriptures and in the Tradition and History of the Church; and indeed in the whole of human history. The ultimate response to God’s benevolence is gratitude and Praise as signs of our return of love for love and our commitment to help spread the love of God in our neighbourhood and wherever we find ourselves. May we never fall short of being grateful nor grow weak in praising God for His manifold blessings and favours towards us; Amen.
In the Gospel Reading of today (Luke 17:11-19), we heard the story of the ten lepers who were cured by Jesus and the unfortunate situation that only one came back to give thanks. Taking note only of the physical condition of Leprosy makes one undermine to a great extent the rich message that we could learn from this scenario. In biblical understanding, beyond being an unfortunate physical condition, the health condition of a Leper naturally makes such a person socially excluded, emotionally frustrated, financially stifled, mentally disturbed and with a future that is uncertain in its highest degree. The healing experience of these ten lepers is one of integral liberation and redemption from their former unpleasant and hopeless selves to a new form and state of life. Certainly, only the merciful and loving power of God can effect such in the life of any person. The greatest shock from the whole scene is that only one out of the ten of them came back to give thanks; “were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreign.” One of the dimensions of the traditional definition of prayer is that of thanksgiving. In fact, the Eucharist which is at the centre of the Christian Life and of Christian Spirituality is also understood as a Prayer of Thanksgiving. Jesus is aware that the less thankful and grateful we are, the more obscure our future becomes and the farther we go from getting the necessary solution for our various challenges in life. Hence, He established a Memorial Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving for His followers in the Eucharist such that they may constantly grow conscious of the indispensability of the attitude of gratitude in their relationship with God and fellow human beings.
Like the only one of the ten that came back to give thanks, Naaman was also a foreigner. Irrespective of his initial composure and resistance to the words of the prophet, it is unsustainable to deny that Naaman was a grateful man. This is demonstrated in the First Reading of today (2 King 5:14-17) in Naaman’s visit to Elisha with those grateful and gracious “please accept a present from your servant.” And afterwards also, “your servant will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any God except the Lord.” With Naaman, we discover that gratitude is also an avenue for and a sign of Conversion and Repentance. Gratitude here simply means to be thankful and to appreciate God for favours and blessings received. Nobody is empty of blessings and favours even when we fail to recognise them around us. Gratitude is the key to receiving more blessings from God! Gratitude makes us splendid and brings us to reflect the glory of God that we carry within us. Gratitude makes us beloved by God! In the Biblical Tradition, no one showed gratitude to God in the form of Praise more than David. It is not out of place to connect this disposition of David as one of the reasons why he is designated as the man after God’s heart (1 Sam 13:14). David was convinced without equivocation that “the Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds” (Ps 145:13). Hence, as King he could defy royal protocol and etiquette to dance before the Ark of the Lord (2 Sam 6:14). From David we learn about the one fundamental reason why we must always be grateful to God because God is always Faithful. As Saint Paul reminded us today in the Second Reading (2 Tim 2:8-13); “we may be unfaithful, but He is always faithful, for He cannot disown His own self.” God’s faithfulness is a given! However, we are not the measure of God’s faithfulness. Also, our respective wishes and aspirations, irrespective of how noble and excellent they may be, are not the measure of God’s faithfulness. God Himself is the measure of His faithfulness which is manifested in line with His will and plan. Gratitude establishes us within the confines of God’s fidelity and keeps us conscious of His will and plan.
Lord Jesus Christ, You are gratitude made flesh. Many times You offered thanks in the form of prayers to the Father. Teach us to be thankful always and never to take your blessings and favours upon us for granted; Amen. Happy Sunday;