Homily: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2016

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Information about Homily: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2016

Published on October 9, 2016

Author: Knipper

Source: slideshare.net

1. 09 October 2016 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Princeton, NJ We are all very familiar with this Gospel story and it seems fairly straight forward - Jesus heals ten and only one comes back to give thanks. Jesus, wondering where the other nine are, tells the one who came back that his faith has saved him. End of story. Or is it really? So let's look at this story again.... As Jesus is traveling south between Samaria and Galilee, towards Jerusalem, towards his crucifixion, he can hear in the distance - cries of, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" As he draws nears he sees that it is a small colony of ten men, forced to live outside of town, who have been ostracized from their communities. Each has a bell around their neck to warn others to not come too close to them. Why? Because they have sores on their bodies, and/or some other physical or mental differences. Either way, they have been deemed by the high priests to be unclean - to be unworthy - to be marginalized outsiders. They are to be excluded at all costs - and they are called lepers. And if that wasn't enough, one of them was a foreigner, a Samaritan. Therefore, because his was classified a leper and because of his race he was a double-outsider who had been told that he is not even worthy of God’s grace. Interestingly, with this miracle, Jesus performs no healing ritual. There is no mud on the eyes, no raising up of the arms, no prayers to God. Jesus simply tells them to go show themselves to the priests, for in the Judaic society, only they could provide the stamp of approval on whether you were healthy enough and clean enough or worthy enough to reenter society. So they headed off into town to see the high priest – before even being healed - having great faith that this Jesus could heal them. For we are told that it was only along the way that they began to realize the healing taking place. It was through their action of asking for help, and their faith in the Master that their illnesses, their differences were washed away. But we are told that one of the ten, after realizing that he was healed, reversed course and came back to Jesus. We shouldn’t be too surprised that it was the double-outsider, the one who had no hope, the foreigner, the Samaritan, the one most unlike anyone else. And upon his return - he gave thanks. Jesus, sounding a bit annoyed, rhetorically asks where are the other nine who were healed - the nine who were of his own race and that only this foreigner came back to give thanks. Then he tells the Samaritan that his faith has saved him. As we have heard throughout this year, in order to show the great extent that Jesus would go to reach out all people, Luke often brings a Samaritan into his parables since they were considered by the Jews to be an inferior race. But did Luke record this story to just make the point of how important it is to give thanks to God? Don't get me wrong, I think we should give thanks and praise God every day. But what drove this healed, double-outsider to come back to the one he called Master? Was it to just say thanks - or was there something more? So let's drop this story into current context. Who are today's lepers? How about those who are excluded because of their ethnic identity, marital status, income level, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, citizenship status? And instead of the council of high priests - who, today is making these assertions and judgements? You and me! Society as a whole. It is phrases such as: they are not like us; look how they live; did you see what they did; they need to stay where they are; God does not love them; they are intrinsically evil. And so we continue to draw lines in the sand…build walls in our culture and our beliefs… and thus define who we feel should be ostracized in our modern day colony of lepers. 1 Deacon Jim Knipper

2. Well then...how about you and me? Don’t we each, at times, feel some degree of modern day leprosy? How many of us have known broken bodies or broken spirits or broken hearts? Failure? Depression? Mental Illness? Addiction? Loss? How many of us have felt excluded, bullied, put- down, picked on and pushed away? How many have been excluded because someone or some group determined that we do not fit? And carrying all that baggage, all that woundedness, all that leprosy - what can that tenth leper teach us? To answer that - look first at the other nine. Begin by recognizing that they did nothing wrong - matter of fact they did what Jesus told them to do - and what their religion demanded of them. Judaic laws stipulated that before they could reenter society and be accepted by others, the priest had to give his imprimatur. Enroute, once they realized that they were healed, their only focus was to be approved by the priest so that they could be accepted back into the community, rejoined to society, welcomed to the fold – and for all that I have to assume that they were grateful for what Christ did. But what the tenth leper showed us was the direction which we need to move in. For midway on his journey to the high priest, recognizing he was healed, filled with gratitude, he made a 180 turn and headed back to Christ. For his focus was not on being accepted by others, but rather on his relationship and connectedness to God and his desire to receive the graces flowing from Christ. While each of us still face daily challenges, every person here today, has been touched. We have been found. We have encountered the living Christ who never turns away from us – and only desires us to walk towards him. Ten were healed - but the one who came back recognized the flow of God’s love and grace coming forth from Christ. Yes - he came back to give thanks but he came back to be connected to that flow. Thus, like the Samaritan we must recognize the need to let go of whatever it is within each of us that is saying no to the flow. We need to let go of the guilt and shame that is keeping the Indwelling Spirit from guiding us. We need to recognize that even our sins, our blemishes, our differences, our leprosy all become good teachers. For God uses all of that as well as our mistakes in our favor, if we allow it. In his latest book, Divine Dance, Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr writes: “This is the great surprise, and for some a disappointment: The Flow doesn’t have to do with you being perfect, belonging to the right group, or even understanding the Flow. Jesus never has any such checklist test before he heals someone. There’s no doctrinal or moral test whatsoever. Jesus doesn’t check if the people he heals are Jewish, baptized, or in their first marriage. He just says, as it were, “Are you going to walk towards me and allow yourself to be touched?” There’s only the one question, which he asks in various ways: Do you want to be healed?” My sisters and brothers, the nine lepers all walked away from Christ in order to feel accepted by society. The Samaritan - he turned around and walked toward Christ desiring to dwell within the divine flow. God has bestowed upon us mercy and grace and love and thus, the hope of a new tomorrow. Do you want to be healed? Then decide which direction you will walk. 2 Deacon Jim Knipper

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