HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME-CYCLE”C”-10/13/13-SMG
+ Pax et Bonum!
There is an extremely shocking line in this Gospel today. It’s not that Jesus is healing ten different lepers. And it’s not that Jesus uses very simple, ordinary means to make the healing happen. And it is not even that only one of the lepers goes back to Jesus to offer his thanks for Jesus giving him his life back. The shocker of this Gospel is that one sentence: “He was a Samaritan.” Now, Jesus had been traveling through both Samaria and Galilee, so maybe it’s not such a surprise that at least one of the lepers was Samaritan. But that a Samaritan, would return to Jesus, a Jewish teacher, to say ‘thank you’, is the twist in this story that nobody expected.
How many times do people defy our expectations of them? How many times do we judge people by the way that they look, or the color of their skin, or the kind of clothes that they wear? Profiling isn’t just something that the FBI, does or the NSTB does at the airport. We ALL do it. Lord knows, we start doing it in grade school. We start judging people by their clothes, where they live, what kind of car they drive, or how long their hair is. And so by the time that we become adults, we’ve all got a lot of built up ideas of who people are and what they are about. These become our prejudices. And no matter how politically correct we like to think that we are, we still all have them.
How many of us have boarded a plane in the last ten years, and noticed young Middle Eastern men with dark hair, and dark beards, and darker skin, and NOT wondered if perhaps they might not be terrorists? How many of us have driven in downtown Indianapolis and been approached at stop lights by panhandlers, some dressed well and some dressed not so well, and NOT wondered if perhaps we were going to be carjacked. A few weeks ago, I was watching TV and there was this NASA scientist on talking about the Mars Rover project. She was very articulate, and very intelligent, and she was speaking that NASA science language where I understood just about half of what she was saying. But the surprising thing about this NASA scientist was that she looked just like Brittany Spears. She could have been her twin sister. It was like Brittany Spears sitting there talking like a NASA rocket scientist. It was not what I expected.
This Gospel today reminds us that our prejudices and stereotypes can often be wrong. The Samaritans hated the Jews. And Jews weren’t exactly real fond of the Samaritans either. There was a lot of bad blood between the two groups. And yet, after this amazing miracle takes place, only this Samaritan who has been healed of leprosy, this foreigner, as Jesus calls him, comes back to Jesus to say ‘thank you’. This Samaritan risks a great deal by approaching Jesus. And truth be known, Jesus has risked a great deal also by healing a Samaritan leper. They are both breaking all kinds of stereotypes here. There is precedent for this in our first reading today from the 2nd Book of Kings, where Naaman the Syrian, another pagan, is also healed of leprosy by God. Clearly God has little concern for our stereotypes, prejudices, and categories! And if God doesn’t judge by stereotypes and categories, then maybe all of us should judge a whole lot less than we do, by what we think that we know.
The other important message of this Gospel text is, of course, to be grateful. God loves it when His people return to say ‘thank you’. Isn’t it odd, that for as terrible of a disease as Leprosy is, that only one healed leper comes back to say ‘thank you’? You would think, that if God had just given you your life back, that all ten would have been there thanking God. It makes you think of everything that God has done for us, and how often do we fail to come back to Him, and tell Him that we are grateful? We need grateful hearts! Being grateful for all our blessing makes this life so much more enjoyable! How can we not be? And yet how often aren’t we?
These are both great lessons for today. We’ve got to stop judging others. AND we need to be more grateful for what each one of us has. If we do both of these things, we’d be a lot happier and have more peace!
+ May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN!!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!