Twenty-Eighth Sunday of the Year
Luke returns to one of his favourite themes in today’s gospel: the outsider as the model of faith. Just as the Good Samaritan was held up by Jesus in a recent Sunday gospel as the model of compassionate love of the neighbour, so a Samaritan today is proclaimed the model of gratitude and faith. He not only gives thanks to Jesus for curing him but recognises that God is the ultimate source of that healing, which leads him to praise God “at the top of his voice.”
Like the nine other lepers, we are not always good at saying thanks. Perhaps today’s gospel could prompt us to take time out to name the ways we have been gifted. Life is a gift and we can appreciate the wonders of life all around us: in nature, in artistic and scientific endeavour, in the people who love us. Our health and well-being is a gift and, if it has been impaired, perhaps we can thank for the many ways in which we have learned to cope and accept with gratitude the care of those around us. Like the Samaritan we will realise that God is the ultimate source of our giftedness and we have the means of joining in the great thanksgiving offering of Jesus in the Eucharist. Mass can become routine, especially if we attend every day; maybe this Sunday we can consciously praise God, like the Samaritan leper, at the top of our voices, singing a new song, as the responsorial psalm invites us, to the God “who has worked wonders.”
Gratitude also leads to a letting-go: Naaman, in the first reading, had to let go of his prejudices and the disciples in the gospel of their hostility to foreigners, as they witness the faith of the Samaritan leper.
In St. Catherine’s life there was a reverse situation with regard to a leper; far from thanking Catherine for her heroic care, Tecca, the leper woman, was jealous of Catherine’s goodness and shouted abuse at her whenever she appeared. But Catherine persevered and ended up getting leprosy in her own hands. This eventually was cured after the death of Tecca.
The picture of Catherine ministering to the sick is taken from an exhibition of paintings of St. Catherine which took place in the monastery of St. Mark in Florence in 1980 to mark the sixth centenary of St. Catherine’s death.
Sr Celine Mangan O.P