Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost--30 August AD 2009

“Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

Ordinary of the Mass
English Text
Latin Text

    Apart from a few weeks after Epiphany, the Gospels read from Advent, through Christmas and Easter, on till Trinity Sunday generally relate to the history of our salvation—the incarnation, birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord, concluding with His ascension into heaven, and the descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost.  During the other parts of the year—the season in which Sunday Mass is almost always celebrated in green vestments—we hear the parables, or stories about “the kingdom of Heaven,” uttered by our Lord in the course of His public life.

    I believe that it is significant to note that He often rebukes the elite of the Jews by Mentioning someone whom they can be expected to dislike as the “hero” of the story.  A few weeks back we heard about the Pharisee and the publican—the Pharisee was a member of the Jewish elite, but it was the humble publican—the tax collector—whom our Lord commended.

    A priest and a levite—again members of the elite—ignored the man who had been beaten by thieves and left half dead by the side of the road.  It was the outcast Samaritan who took care of the man, and will ever be remembered as the Good Samaritan.

    Sometimes it is a Roman soldier whom the Lord approves:  “I have not found such great faith in Israel … many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven….[1]  The Centurion was part of the hated Roman occupational army, and here our Lord was approving him and threatening that “the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”[2]

     The message in this is that our Lord is cautioning us not to be so filled with self importance that we look down on others simply because they are different from us, or come from what we feel is a lower social class.  We should esteem people not on the basis of “who” or “what” they are, but on the way they live their lives.  “By their fruits you shall know them.[3]  His Apostles were all simple men, but also the greatest saints of His Church.

    The lepers in today’s Gospel were all outcasts.  The Mosaic Law treated leprosy as a punishment for sin, and prescribed a number of health regulations which, among other things, required the leper to stay away from those not infected, and to ring a bell whenever he came close to an inhabited area.  If somehow the leper was cured of his affliction, he was to present himself to the priests of the Temple, who, following instructions in the Law would pronounce him cured or not.[4]

    The lepers in today’s Gospel did what they were told, and were made clean from the disease as they made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  “But one of them, seeing that he was made clean, returned, with a loud voice glorifying God, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks; and he was a Samaritan.[5]  Once again, the “hero” of the story was an outcast; indeed and outcast among fellow outcast lepers.  Nine out of ten failed to return to show their gratitude for our Lord’s healing miracle.

    Perhaps we are guilty of the same thing.  Our Lord has done many things for us, but we do not often take the time to thank Him—and we don’t even have to make the trip from Jerusalem to Galilee to do so!  Life may not be exactly the way we would like it all of the time, but we still have so much to be thankful for.  We have our lives.  We have our immortal souls, which have been redeemed with the price of His blood.  Relative to other times and nations, the poorest among us live fairly well.  We have luxuries undreamed of in the wildest imagination of our Lord’s contemporaries.  Certainly, God owes us none of this.  On the contrary, we men and women have often done things which merit punishment rather than reward.

    Together with this Samaritan we should resolve to return often to thank God for His goodness.  Every day we should make thanksgiving a part of our prayers—thanking God for all of the things He has given us out of His abundant generosity.  And once in a while—as often as possible—we should make the journey to thank Jesus Christ in Person, here where He dwells in the tabernacle, waiting for the visit of us, His modern day publicans, and centurions, and Samaritans, His unworthy servants, whom He holds as precious as those who consider themselves “elite.”


[1]   Matthew viii: 10-11.

[2]   Ibid.,  12.

[3]   Matthew vii: 16

[5]   Gospel: Luke xvii: 7-19.




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