Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C 2013 Holy Spirit Parish 13 October 2013
Deacon John William McMullen
photo courtesy of the internetmonk
Where Are The Other Nine?
In the first reading from Kings, Elisha the prophet tells Naaman the leprous Syrian to do something very common: go wash in the muddy Jordan River. Naaman was shocked by the simplicity of Elisha’s cure.
Naaman wanted to see some of the famous Lord God YHWH action – lightning, fire, smoke, the pizzazz of the almighty, omnipotent! Instead, he is told to go wash in the muddy Jordan River. He did as Elisha had said AND FULLY IMMERSED HIMSELF in the water and was cured. Very simple.
This simple act of being immersed, plunged into the water calls to mind our own baptism. Think of the ordinariness of baptism piercing our way into the life of the Holy Trinity. A simple act brings us into union with Christ! The ordinariness of water conveys God’s abundant grace. And it is in the ordinariness of life where we experience God’s grace; down in the ordinary muddiness of daily life.
In today’s gospel, Jesus travels through Samaria, and is met by ten lepers. These ten lepers were a community based upon their disease and their low social status. It was a community of outsiders, based on their brokenness, based on their disease!
Our world praises the beautiful and perfect, while it condemns the needy, sick and suffering, and holds the less fortunate in contempt.
But we are all poor before the throne of God’s Grace!
And in reality we are all poor, blind, and lame, covered with leprosy of some sort. And no matter how many possessions we have, we are still poor and in need of something – or rather, someone greater than ourselves.
We are all lepers before God. We have the leprosy of sin. And Jesus encounters us in the midst of our lives, sin and all.
Jesus was willing to CLEANSE all ten lepers, yet it was the lone Samaritan who realized he had been healed and returned to Jesus, glorifying God; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. But Jesus asked “Where are the other nine?”
Christ cleanses us all, but how many of us allow Christ to truly heal, restore us to true faith and relationship with one another? And do we return to Christ to give thanks and praise?
But where are the other nine?
The Samaritan is the example for a true disciple. He risks everything by returning to Jesus and worshiping him. But what gave this Samaritan the guts to join Jesus and join his community?! Jesus says it is his faith!
Whereas before the Samaritan was defined by his lack of acceptability and marked by his irreversible illness, he is now recognized for his faith – his abundance of life!
He returns to Jesus to give thanks for he is restored to a relationship of faith in God and Christ and the community!
In a way, this is exactly what we do here week after week! We join the community of Christ and His church! We come sick, with our leprosy of sin; we acknowledge our sin and pray, Lord, have mercy! And at the same time we are overwhelmed with his love, and say, “Lord, have mercy!”
Christ encounters us right where we are, sins and all! We encounter Christ in the Confessional; in Word of God proclaimed, and the bread and wine transformed into the very body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord!
Jesus says: “Go, your faith has saved you!”
At the end of Mass the deacon or priest says: “Go in peace, announce the gospel of the Lord, glorifying the Lord by your life.” We are sent forth in faith to love and serve the Lord. And we respond: “Thanks be to God.” But what does it mean? Where should we go? What should we do?
We have a task. And it has a lot to do with Jesus’ question:
“Where are the other nine?”
You will notice that his question is not answered in the gospel.
Each one of us is like the healed Samaritan. But for each one of us here, there are nine others who are missing.
In a way, our community is incomplete, as we can tell by too many empty pews. For every one of us here, where are the other nine?
All of us have the task of restoring others to Christ and bringing them into the Church. We are sent out on mission—this is the task of evangelization that Christ calls us to, and which Pope Francis has been modeling for us.
Pope Francis’ message for today is: “If we keep our faith only to ourselves, we will become isolated and sick Christians. The proclamation of the Gospel is part of being disciples of Christ… missionary outreach is a clear sign of a mature church community.” (Pope Francis quoting Pope Benedict XVI).
To evangelize others is to invite them into friendship and relationship with Jesus Christ.
There is a simplicity in it. It begins with a smile. We begin by being a friend. We welcome them into our lives. We pray for them. We can invite them to Mass.
But first we ourselves must be in relationship with Jesus; we cannot give to another what we ourselves do not have.
Like the cleansed leper we first fall at Jesus’ feet and call him Lord. Therefore, as we go, recognizing that we are cleansed and healed, we seek out the other nine who are not with us and bring them back to Christ, caring for them, especially the needy and most vulnerable, the spiritually sick and dying, welcoming them into our community of faith in Jesus Christ so that they too can be cleansed and healed.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone one us invited just one person back to church?
And if any of you want to invite nine, then, please, by all means, do so!
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful testimony to the faith of this parish family?! Can we imagine the joy?
What are we waiting for?
"Go, your faith has saved you.”