Sunday, Oct. 13, is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C). Mass readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98:1-4; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19.
In today’s first reading from the Second Book of Kings, we hear about Naaman, a foreign king, who is healed from a skin ailment by following “the word of Elisha, the man of God.” Having been healed by plunging himself in the Jordan River seven times, the king attempts to thank Elisha by offering him a gift, but the prophet refuses, for he is a servant of the Lord. In response, the king pledges himself to the one true God of Israel.
In the Gospel from St. Luke we learn first that Jesus and his disciples are traveling to Jerusalem. He is on the journey to his death, traveling through Galilee and Samaria. So it is that 10 lepers, one of them a Samaritan, approach them and, from a distance, ask for pity.
Our Lord tells them to go to the priests of Israel, presumably to be cleansed. And it speaks to the great faith they had in Jesus, whom they call “Master,” that they all immediately start off to see the priests. This faith in Jesus results in their being healed of their leprosy. However, only one of them, the Samaritan, a foreigner like King Naaman, “returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Jesus, unlike Elisha, receives the praise and then tells the healed man to “stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
These readings contain two regular themes throughout the Gospel of St. Luke. The first is that the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus is a message meant for the whole world, not just the Jews. The reading from St. Paul to St. Timothy notes that though Jesus is a “descendent of David,” “the word of God is not chained.” Therefore, not only is it possible for the foreigner to have faith in Jesus, this faith can lead to salvation. As the Psalmist says today, “The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.”
A second theme in St. Luke’s Gospel is that the proper response one ought to have to the gift of faith and salvation is thanksgiving. This is indeed a crucial attitude for every Christian, as Pope Benedict XVI made clear in his wonderful encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth). There, he refers to this attitude as one of “gratuitousness.” From the Italian gratitudine, it refers to an attitude of constant thanksgiving in order to engender regular appreciation for the things we have received.
It is an approach to the world that presumes that nothing is owed to us and that everything is gift. This is because everything we receive is from the Lord. Our wealth and our health, our family and friends are all gifts from God. So, like the Samaritan today, we should always seek to be grateful to the Lord, particularly for our faith, our salvation in him and the sacraments.
Eucharist is Greek for “thanksgiving,” and so if we are Eucharistic people, we ought to be a people of thanksgiving. The call today from Our Lord is to be grateful for what we have received and, out of our gratitude, to share it with others.
Omar Gutierrez is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska.
He is the president and co-founder of the Evangelium Institute.