Reflection: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

 Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – 2Kings.5:14-17; Ps.97; 2nd Reading – 2Tim.2:8-13; Gospel – Lk.17:11-19]

This story has an amazing effect.  There are these ten lepers who went to Jesus but had to stay some distance away from Jesus (since they cannot go near Jesus, or anyone, because of their leprosy). They asked Jesus to have pity on them. They also addressed him as ‘Master’.  This is not only a title for Jesus, but it also reflects that they already have a ‘relationship’ with him.  If he is their ‘Master’, then they are his disciples.  But alas, they cannot be true disciples and therefore cannot follow Jesus because something (i.e. their illness, their leprosy) is hindering them.  Furthermore, when they went to ask Jesus to ‘have pity on them’, they were doing the same thing as those who, both in the Old and in the new Testament, found themselves in the presence of God.  As soon as they opened their mouth to ask Jesus to ‘have pity on them’, Jesus knew that they were already prepared to receive what they were asking for.  This request to Jesus to ‘have pity’, asked in the same manner and spirit as in the Old Testament, was truly a direct request made to God.  They were therefore seeing in Jesus the Master that could perform as God!

Yet, when they go to Jesus and ask him to have pity on them, Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests.  It was the priest who had to verify and declare that the leper was clean to be received back into society again.  In this case, the ten lepers are not yet clean and yet, they obey what Jesus tells them and go.  It is not specifically said in the story that they were going to the priest, but we know that ‘as they were going away, they were cleansed’.  If they were cleansed it means that they took seriously what Jesus told them, ‘believed’, and were ready to do what was asked of them … even if they were not yet physically cured from their illness.

We are told that all of them were in fact cured ‘on their way’, but only one of them, a Samaritan, who as soon as he discovered that he was cured he ‘turned back praising God at the top of his voice’ and threw himself at the feet of Jesus.  As a cured man (even though not yet officially declared so by the officials [priests]) he could now physically go near Jesus … and thank him.  Thus, the relationship that already existed ’from a distance’, could now be more ’closer’, more ‘intimate’. Jesus tells the cleansed leper that it was his faith that saved him!

Jesus comments that all ten where cured (one imagines because of their faith) but only the ‘foreigner’ was ready to thank Jesus for showing his pity to him.  Jesus makes a point by asking ‘where are they?’

This story is the story of the people of Israel.  God has shown his pity on them when they asked for it.  But when he gave it to them, they were not ready to return to thank God for his relationship with them … but only the foreigners were ready to do so!

This same story can apply to us too, in our own life.  We receive God’s love and pity … but do we make the effort to return to thank him and therefore to further consolidate our relationship with him?

“Lord, we know we are sick and ‘lepers’ in our own way and we often ask you to have pity on us.  Help us to be thankful of what you do for us in our daily life.  Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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