Reflection for October 9, 2022 — 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 11, 2022 | By Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr.

“Were not ten healed?”

Many years ago, I took several of my nephews to Gettysburg to see the Civil War battlefield. We came back to Emmitsburg, to see where St. Elizabeth Ann Seton established the first Catholic school. We finally stopped at the Grotto behind Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary before leaving for home. The boys had a good time, climbing boulders at Gettysburg and touring the sites at Emmitsburg and the Grotto.

Before we left for home, the youngest boy turned and stared at me. He then ran toward me, jumped into my arms, giving me a long, tight hug. I set him down and he ran back to join his brothers. I know that his brothers enjoyed themselves just as much as he did, but he came back to thank me with a hug.

Today’s Gospel reading reminded me of that day with my nephews. Jesus responded to the pleading of the ten lepers to “have pity on them,” to cure them. There was no known cure or treatment for leprosy in biblical times. The disease did not have a cure and was contagious among people. That is why lepers were literally considered the “walking dead” in Christ’s time and should be avoided at all costs. Lepers were literally the “outcasts” of Jewish society.

Jesus heard their pleas and sent them to the priests of the temple. The priests were the only ones who could pronounce a leper clean and fit to again join Jewish society. On the way to the priests, the lepers realized that Jesus had made them clean. Only the Samaritan “saw fit” to return to Jesus and praise God for his cure. Jews despised Samaritans, but it was only this Samaritan that came back to thank Jesus, a Jew, for curing him.

In our Old Testament reading Naaman, a non-Jew like the leper who returned to praise God for what Jesus had done for him, wanted to praise the God of Israel for what Elisha had done for him. For the leper and Naaman, it was their faith that they would be cured that prompted them to return and give praise to God.

The lesson we learn from both is to realize that gratitude, giving thanks, and being thankful people, changes us, not God. We don’t give thanks to change God’s mind. Being thankful, being grateful, changes us; it changes our hearts, our outlook on life, and our relationships with others. It’s a truth that sets us free. Gratitude and thankfulness will change how we live. That is why we celebrate the Eucharist – which means thanksgiving – so we can go on our ways, walking thankfully in the faith and freedom of being sons and daughters of God.

– Bishop Roy Campbell

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