28 Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 13, 2019
Today’s passage from Luke’s Gospel is particularly appropriate for our sisters and brothers gathering for Eucharist “north of the border.” Monday, October 14, 2019, Canadians celebrate “Thanksgiving Day.” The brief encounter between Jesus and 10 lepers not only reminds us of the need to be grateful for all of our blessings, but also draws a clear connection between faith, gratitude, and salvation; a very fine way for Canada to begin the holiday weekend. And it isn’t too early for disciples “south of the border” to be reminded of the lessons drawn from this healing miracle.
A good starting point in our reflection is the word Eucharist…which means THANKSGIVING. When we Christians gather around the healing Word of The Lord and then feast on The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, we are doing exactly what the faith-filled 10th leper did. We are expressing our gratitude for the cosmic healing from which all humanity has benefited (although not acknowledged and appreciated by the majority) through the suffering and death of our Savior. But, it would seem that the #10…the foreigner…played some role in his own cure. Moreover, Jesus seems to be telling this man that his encounter with God’s Word made flesh has left him with something even more miraculous than cleared skin.
Stand up and go forth, YOUR FAITH has SAVED YOU! The Lord acknowledged the leper’s gratitude with assurances of salvation. Therein lies the connection between faith, gratitude, and salvation. People of faith live in gratitude for their blessings, and somehow, through this lifestyle of gratitude…salvation is to be found.
It’s interesting to consider that a lifestyle of gratitude offers benefits here and now as well. A few years back, in acknowledgement of “U. S. Thanksgiving,” Forbes Magazine (not what one would normally consider a spiritual journal) published an article entitled: 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round. Psychotherapist Amy Morin claims that there is research to substantiate that: gratitude opens the door to more relationships, improves physical and psychological health, enhances empathy, reduces aggression, enables people to sleep better, improves self-esteem, and increases mental strength.
All of the underlying research is unnecessary for us who live a lifestyle of gratitude through the Eucharist. Each week, we experience what clinical research is trying to prove!
Think about the song we so often sing: We come to share our story. We come to break The Bread. We come to know our rising from the dead.
We come with grateful hearts to Eucharist, to build and strengthen our relationship with Christ and with one another. And when we come together united by our faith, we extend healing hands to one another.
Remember how the hymn continues: We are called to heal the broken, to be hope for the poor, we are called to feed the hungry at our door. All of these acts of Christian discipleship are evidence of our ability to empathize with the suffering that is pervasive in our world. And it is that very ability to feel the pain of others that makes us more Christ-like.
The final verse of the song is perhaps the most powerful: May we live in love and peace our whole life long. Christian charity and love promote peace in our world. Materialism and greed enrage those who live on the margin and bring about resentment that boils over into violence.
If science has proven that gratitude leads to a better night’s sleep, waking not only refreshed but confident, think of what the grace that flows to us through the Eucharist does. It enables us to embrace death…assured that those who have embraced a lifestyle of gratitude through the Eucharist will not only find healing, here and now, but will be saved…resurrected.
Social research might validate the benefit of saying “thank you” through the Eucharist…We come to know our rising from the dead!
(Thank you to David Haas for his beautiful hymn Song to the Body of Christ)