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Ordinary Time 28 (C)
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Readings for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

1. II Kings 5, 14-17

  • Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times.  This passage talks about the healing of a visiting foreigner, and his gratitude.  So does today’s Gospel.  Let me find my own voice of gratitude.
  • Listen to the power of the word of Elisha, the man of God.  Unlike the power of modern medications and invasive surgery, the Syrian’s flesh became like that of a little child.  We are still amazed as we repeat the story.
  • There is nothing unusual in these actions, when I first hear them.  He returned to the man of God.  He stood before Elisha.  And he wanted to make a gift in gratitude, urging the prophet to accept. 
  • Then we move to the dimension of faith.  Now I know there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.  As I say “There is no God” I might remember the faith that swept over the Middle East a millennium later.
  • As the Lord lives I will not take a gift.  I should say it naturally.  The wonderful works of God are free.  And the gift of healing comes from God.  I should not show surprise, since my listeners also applaud what the prophet has done.  Even today our basic humanity will trump the rules of a profit-maximing economy. 
  • Please let your servant have two mule-loads of earth.  It is an unusual request for our ears.  I will say “mule-loads” carefully so that everyone hears.  For the ancients each land bore witness to its gods, so that even a few sacks of earth could lead to a shrine.  We still follow Naaman’s example.  My father collected stones from each mountain we ever climbed. 
  • Climax: The action of healing.  He was clean of his leprosy.
  • Message for our assembly: How grateful are we for divine favors?  Is there a place for God in our post-modern lives?
  • I will challenge myself: To read with understanding, so that my listeners will have time to be reminded of their own behavior.

2. II Timothy 2, 8-13

  • Remember Jesus Christ.  Well, who does not remember?  Isn’t that why we are here today?  But the apostle is referring to his own imprisonment, and he identifies his fate, suffering even to the point of chains, with that of Jesus, raised from the dead. 
  • It is not easy to see the positive side of adversity and prison.  But that is why we meet in our weekly thanksgiving.  How well do I believe?  It will show in the way I read the words: I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen.
  • The word of God is not chained.  The way I deliver this will help to prove the apostle’s point.  How?  Let it be strong, as if I expect the people to reply: No!
  • Now begins an ancient Christian hymn that affirms our destiny.  If we have diedIf we persevere.  We may live in the midst of many followers of Christ and yet we need to assure ourselves.  Following Jesus means going against the grain, leaving earthly comforts behind.
  • If we are unfaithful he remains faithful.  What assurance in these words!  That was the lesson of Jesus’ words of forgiveness on the cross, and also of Peter’s repentance after he denied the Lord. 
  • Climax: If we have died with him we shall also live with him.
  • The message for our assembly: Is Jesus someone with whom we identify every day of the week?
  • I will challenge myself: To encourage the church with the recognition of Christ present, that we may not deny him.

Gospel. Luke 17, 11-19

  • As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.  We are in border country, the setting for today’s Gospel. 
  • Ten lepers met him.  They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices.  How can I paint the picture?  Over and over we hear in the Gospels of shy people who do not dare to come too close to the Lord.
  • When he saw them he said, Go show yourselves to the priests.  I think that Jesus did not see their leprosy, but reminded them of their innate beauty.  “Let others see you as I see you.”  He also healed in a context of faith.  “Let others recognize the work of God here.”
  • One of them, realizing that he had been healed, returned, glorifying God.  There is that loud voice again. 
  • He fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  Jesus is going to express surprise about this, so why don’t I also?  The evangelist has presented a conversion scene with this foreigner at center stage. 
  • Stand up and go.  Your faith has saved you.  Jesus speaks these words to everyone present today.  Faith is our badge of honor in the church. 
  • Central point: Everyone is a child of God, including those we may despise.  Whether we have professed our faith in Jesus through all our lives or only for a few months, we are equal in his eyes.
  • Message for our assembly: Let us not look at the surface traits of others, but look on them as God does.
  • I will challenge myself: To express the wonder of God’s healing action, and to express the need for gratitude.

From Word to Eucharist: To get where we are, we have had to pick ourselves up off the ground time after time.  Whatever our scars, whatever the trouble we’ve seen, Jesus calls us beautiful.  And if we forget even this, we should know more than anyone else that Jesus remembers.  Let us recognize in all those around us today what Jesus first recognized in them. 

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