28C – 10/4/16
In the first reading from 2Kings 5:14-17 and in the third, from Luke 17:11-19, lepers are cured. In the OT reading, the prophet Elisha cures the Aramean general Naaman who returns in thanksgiving to embrace the God of the Jews, and reject the gods he had previously worshiped; in the Gospel reading Jesus cures the 10 lepers but only the Samaritan returns to glorify God and kneel before Jesus in thanksgiving. Both were foreigners. The Jews had always seen themselves as God’s only Chosen people and consequently all other peoples as rejected, worthless trash, rejected by God. However, since God cures both Naaman, the Syrian, and the Samaritan (who returns to thank Jesus/God and, in effect take him as his Savior,) both foreigners/non—Jews, (have been cured and have embraced God as their Savior and, in turn,) God has embraced them as saved and valued by God as his People. Both of these events contradict the Jews’ belief that they are God’s only People.
Both the OT & the NT readings are asserting that God’s People are those who live in thanksgiving to God for His goodness to them and who worship him as their God, the God of their lives. God chooses those who choose him to be their God and who recognize Him as the Ultimate Giver of all things good. God chooses those who consequently live in thanksgiving to God for his daily goodness to them (“Give us today our daily bread). It is His goodness, his goodness alone that sustains us and that makes us good which is to say, holy, able to live with Him forever in heaven.
Some people might think that they are the ones who work hard to produce the goods that their family has. Indeed they have worked hard with the life that God gave them, with the talents & capabilities that God gave them, with the education and training and opportunities that God gave them through others. As a thankful people we choose to recognize that daily our God acts a generous, kind, thoughtful, caring Father. We choose to be His grateful children who live in his abundance.
St. Paul writes in 2 Timothy, “Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him.” Paul uses the words “bearing,” “dying.” Following Jesus means leaving something of ourselves behind forever. It is quite natural, that is to say, an essential part of human nature to want to run our own lives, provide for ourselves, go with feelings that makes us feel in charge of our person. For me to choose God as the God, that is Lord and Master, of my life is to die to something that is naturally a part of me. To follow Christ means to leave something of me behind that is quite naturally a dear part of me, to gain something infinitely greater and more precious. “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.(Galatians 2:19c – 20