Jesus it is who teaches us by word and by deed to give to God the right thanks that we owe him for the gifts we freely receive.
The Samaritan, who sees that he is free of leprosy and goes back to give Jesus thanks, breaks the mold. For he is a foreigner that Jews belittle and hate. And yet, he does what no one expects him to do. Clearly, he has behaved better than the nine Jews who do not turn out grateful.
No, the nine did not meet expectations. And much is expected of them and of all Jews (see Am 3, 2). God asks much of them, since he has given them much. They, in contrast to the Samaritans, worship what they know, and salvation is from them.
Given, then, so many gifts and their healing, it is a pity the nine, Jews that they are, have not acted as the Samaritan. That they have not praised God in a loud voice nor have they given their healer thanks. And it is not that for us to give thanks or not give thanks adds or lessens God’s or Jesus’ glory. It is for our being set aright, rather, that we should give thanks.
Do we, who say we are of the new covenant and of the new people of God, give thanks?
There is room for such a question. For that God chooses us, that we enjoy many gifts, favors, promises—this we may allow to go to our head. So much so that we come to believe that we are better than others.
And then, slowly but surely, we become too sure of ourselves, our knowledge, our righteousness, our authority. And we end up cutting off God and neighbor. Those we belittle, then, may very well break the mold and go into the kingdom ahead of us.
But we Christians are to be lowly and take others as more important than ourselves and look to others’ interests. And we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and recognize that it is all up to God.
The key, yes, is to be lowly and poor, even if one may be an army commander, like Naaman. God sets aright and helps only the lowly folks that admit their need for help. And to be lowly means to give thanks (TWVDP 59). Also, to be lowly and poor is to imitate Jesus who does not fail to give thanks (Mt 11, 25; Mk 8, 6; Lk 22, 17-19; Jn 11, 41). We look at him, at the one who gives us his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. So that we may always give thanks. In him is salvation.
Lord Jesus, make us learn from you, for you are meek and humble of heart. And spur us on through the Holy Spirit to give thanks to you and to the Father.
9 October 2022
28th Sunday in O.T. (C)
2 Kgs 5, 14-17; 2 Tim 2, 8-13; Lk 17, 11-19