Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless!
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C
October 12/13, 2013
2 Kings 5: 14-17; 2 Tim 2: 8-13; Luke 17: 11-19
Today we hear of gratitude in the Gospel story of the healing of the ten lepers, and in the story of the healing of Namaan, the Syrian in the first reading.
Gratitude….. Have you ever been healed from a serious physical illness? Heart disease? Cancer? High blood pressure? Infections? Have you ever been healed from a psychological problem, like depression or anxiety? Have you ever been freed from an addiction like alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, pornography? Have you ever been freed from a spiritual disease like habitual lying, stinginess, and pride? I will bet there is someone here today who has experienced such healing. If there is one thing that will spark gratitude in someone, it is usually being healed from illness.
If you have been healed, how long did your gratitude last? How did you express it? How did it take form and shape? How long did you remember what God had done for you?
Naaman the Syrian in the first reading remembered and was grateful so he took a few mule loads of dirt back home with him. He wanted to build an altar to God on soil from Israel, so he would never forget what God had done for him.
Yes, remembrance and gratitude are always intertwined, aren’t they? We cannot be grateful if we forget and how quickly we forget! We are a people who forget the past. But the past is important, recalling what God has done for us is important, if we are to be grateful. If we suppress our memories, if we downplay history, especially salvation history i.e., if we forget the many ways God has worked in our lives, then we become ungrateful; we end up thinking that we are the ones to whom gratitude is owed, not God. We close in on ourselves and we exclude God from our lives.
We must remember! Our gratitude needs to be sustained by our memories, so our memories must endure!
How do we as Catholics remember and give thanks? I’d like you to think about it for just a second. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to come up with an answer. You don’t have to answer out loud…… Okay, the primary way of remembering and giving thanks is celebrating the Eucharist as a parish. Nod your heads vigorously if you got it right! Eucharist means “give thanks” in Greek. The Eucharist is both an act of remembrance and an act of gratitude. We recall what God has done for us in our lives and we say thank you to him.
Thank you for saving my life!
Thank you for forgiving my sins!
Thank you for not abandoning me!
Thank you for healing me!
Thank you for making me you adopted son or daughter!
The Sunday Eucharist should be the beginning of our prayer life for the week and the place at the end of the week we give our entire lives to God in one great prayer of thanksgiving. That is why coming to Mass every Sunday is not a suggestion but an obligation for all Catholics. It is something that is that important. The Church knows that if don’t gather together to remember and give thanks, we will forget what God has done and we will lose our faith.
One of the most impressive things I saw in Rome when I lived and studied there was the room in the catacomb of St. Priscilla where there is a stone altar on which the Eucharist was celebrated by early Christians during the first 100 years of the Christianity. I remember standing there as the priest said Mass and thinking that I was standing on the exact same spot some Christian once stood as he or she attended Mass. I thought then that even in the midst of persecution, martyrdom and fear, they remembered, they came together, and they gave thanks. They had Eucharist.
Did you know that one of the fruits of gathering for the Sunday Eucharist and receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace can be healing? A healing of mind and heart, a healing of the effects of sin? Did you know that God offers us healing and forgiveness at each and every Eucharist? That the Eucharist is one great prayer of thanksgiving, the most powerful prayer of thanksgiving that exists?
Remember this: God sent his only Son into the world that we may have life and have it to the full. Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins and rose from the dead to lead us back to the Father in heaven. God loves you that much! He did not spare in only Son. And now the Father and the Son sends forth into your life the gift of the Holy Spirit to be with you and guide you wherever you may be.
Remember, and give thanks always!