We Must, by Our Thanksgiving, Reveal the Goodness of our God

10-16-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

We have made it almost all the way through to “the end” of the COVID Pandemic; it now seems to be taking a quieter course as it continues to infect people with its variants. The vaccines and boosters seem to have lessened the terrible effects of the virus and now people can recover at home and not in the hospital on ventilators. However, we still try to avoid people who are coughing or sneezing. We also tend to keep more distance around ourselves. Many people, still stop to think if they wish to be in a large crowd with strangers. Some folks who have been faithful and good Catholics are still not “back in church” because of the confined spaces issue. I understand their decision and respect it. I know some folks who will not be using public transport, especially airplanes or trains.

Our Gospel of today about leprosy resonates with how we have lived our lives for the last two or more years. The streaks of irrationality which have surfaced during the COVID Epidemic show that good health practices and common sense do not always win the day. We are more like the folks of biblical times who feared leprosy and had all sorts of rules on how a person with leprosy had to live in isolation in cemeteries and dumps with warning bells for when they went about the area In our Gospel story, the arrival in the presence of Jesus of the ten lepers who are shouting “Unclean! Unclean!” must have dis-gusted and horrified the people. They were also shouting out to Jesus to have pity on them. He did and told them to go show themselves to the Temple priests; as it is dictat-ed by Temple Law. As the story tells us, the ten are cured as they make their way to the Temple. Imagine how Jesus felt when only one, yes, only one of the ten, returned to say thank you to him.

About two weeks ago, a new major theme of faith started in our readings. Our readings this weekend continue to highlight this theme from various points of view. Our first reading begins with a miracle. Notice that Naaman then offers an act of gratitude which then is followed by faith. Faith comes out of this miracle cure and Naaman gives thanks for it. In the Gospel passage, the cure of the Samaritan follows faith, which then in turn prompts gratitude and praise. Notice how these two scriptural passages focus on the faith of the receiver of gifts. They basically make clear, there can be no such thing as a quiet or anonymous faith. This means that the gift of faith cannot be hidden, locked up, or tucked away; faith is to be shared and should result in praising God.

For us as Christians, there are three elements for giving thanksgiving: the giver, the re-ceiver, and an assembly. We cannot run away and give thanks quietly and privately. We must by our thankfulness reveal the goodness of the giver, this means that we must, by our thanksgiving, reveal the goodness of our God. The Samaritan knew what it meant to be a thankful person. The question is always: “Do we?”