October 13th - 2019
The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
As he was entering a village, ten
lepers met him.
They raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"
And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests."
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud
voice He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply, "Ten were
cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this
foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"
(from Lk 17:11-19)
Pondering the Word…
Today’s Old and New Testament
stories are about gratitude, as are many of the other readings this week. In
Second Kings, Naaman, grateful for his healing, gives Elisha the greatest gift
in return: not silver and gold, but his commitment to faith in the one, true
God. In the gospel, Jesus, traveling through Samaria (which no observant Jew
would do) encounters ten lepers ostracized by their border communities. They cry
out in unison for pity. Jesus tells them to show themselves to the priests per
the rules in Leviticus 14.
We don’t know until the end that
one is a Samaritan. How does Jesus know? Samaritans were a taller race with
lighter hair and eyes. They often wore blue turbans to distinguish themselves
from Jews. Chances are, though, Jesus knows this for one simple reason: when
sent off to show themselves to the priests, the nine Jews would have headed in
one direction, the Samaritan in the other. The infirmity that brought them
together is healed, but the division of race reemerges. The Samaritan allows
gratitude to take him in the right direction.
The nine, ecstatic over their
healings, probably succumbed to “group think.” I like to imagine they became
Jesus’ disciples once they had time to reflect on their healing. The lone man
had no one to distract him and as Samaritans were, in the Jews’ opinion, not
observant of the law, he was probably less caught up in the need for legal
rituals and more focused on the gift.
And that, I believe, is the main
message for today: How focused am I on the gift?
Living the Word…
Let’s foster an attitude of
gratitude. If our focus is on following rules or solely on the gift of
salvation, it will be hard to maintain a living outlook of gratitude.
Cultivating an attitude of
gratitude calls for living in the present moment. It also requires us to
redefine what we think of as gift. Have you ever experienced a softening in
another’s countenance when you respond with gentleness and love? Do you take
time sitting in traffic to say a brief prayer or observe the nature around? Have
you ever looked back on a difficult time to see the growth—the gift--that
occurred for you?
See if you can look for the gift in
everything and everyone you encounter this week. Give thanks to God. Awareness
like this takes practice, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Give it
“Through (Jesus) we have received the grace of apostleship…” (Rom 1:1-7)
What does it mean to you that
you’ve received the grace of apostleship? Do you consider the call to
apostleship a grace or is it just one more obligation? Yes, the gift of grace is
given, but have you accepted it? Have you opened it up to see what’s inside?
Consider these questions and allow yourself the freedom to answer them honestly.
Then take time for prayerful reflection, asking the Spirit to strengthen your
resolve to begin or continue your work as an apostle of Jesus. Give thanks to
God for the gift of this grace.
“Ever since the creation of the world, his attributes of power and divinity have
been able to be perceived. They have no excuse; for although they knew God they
did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.”
On average, how many times a day do
you stop to look around at everything in creation, perceive God’s power and
divinity, and give thanks? If you are like most of us, probably not enough. Our
routines and habits become ingrained and we pass the day in rote activity. When
I started out to build my awareness of God’s presence, I put a little reminder
bell on my phone to ring several times during the course of the day. I would
take 30 seconds to look around, recognize God in the things and people around
me, and say thanks. What might help you to stop and look for God amid the
busyness (or boredom) of your day?
“Or do you hold (God’s) priceless kindness, forbearance,
and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to
Today’s readings tell it like it
is. Not like it was--like it is. When we read passages that criticize or
chastise, we might say, “Oh, Paul or Jesus are talking to the people of their
time, not to us,” and yes, some Scripture messages do apply to the culture in
which they lived. But the messages today are timeless. They speak of the traps
into which those in power can fall: “Oh, the law and that ‘judge not that ye be
not judged’ thing just apply to “sinners,” not to me.” Or conversely, we might
think, “these messages are just for people in power, not for a peon like me.”
Think again. Have we accepted God’s priceless kindness by forgiving ourselves
and others? Do we see and appreciate God’s impartiality? “The Scriptures can
often offend, but they are not meant to offend. They are meant to challenge.
They only offend us if we do not want to be challenged.” (Walter Modrys, S.J.)
“What occasion is
there then for boasting? It is ruled out. On what principle, that of works? No,
rather on the principle of faith. For we consider that a person is justified by
faith apart from works of the law.”(Rom
This passage is
significant to a major theological debate: Are we justified—saved—by works or
solely by faith in Christ? I’ll leave the theological discourse to the
theologians, but for me, the big question is what is meant by the word “faith.”
I think faith, like our mortal bodies, needs to be living and breathing;
otherwise, it is dead. It cannot be simply a statement of belief or a checklist
of rules, nor even a heartfelt conviction that is never acted upon. Faith is not
a noun, just something we have; it is a verb. It is something we live. I ask
myself: “Does my living faith reflect the theological faith I claim to hold so
“At my first defense,
everyone deserted me…but the Lord stood by me…”
(2 Tm 4:10-17) Jesus appointed
seventy-two disciples in pairs…”Go on your way; I am sending you like lambs
among wolves.” (Lk 10:1-9)
The early disciples did not have an easy road. The message they were
bringing to the towns and villages was often met with skepticism, and
accusations of heresy were always a possibility. Most of us don’t face that kind
although some do. But there are plenty of skeptics today as well, or those who
seem to interpret Jesus’ words in a very different way. It’s always good to
someone with you—a spouse or family member, a close “God friend,” a spiritual
director who can serve as your companion as you navigate the wolf-infested roads
of today’s culture. But even if you do not have a human companion, know the Lord
stands by you, to strengthen you and listen to you when you need support. We are
never alone on our journey.
is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, who gives life to the
dead and calls into being what does not exist. He believed, hoping against
hope…” (Rom 4:13, 16-18)
Is there anything challenging your
ability to hope? We hope for the end to gun violence, to the ever-growing rifts
in our countries and institutions, to war and poverty. At times, it feels
hopeless. Let’s turn to our father in faith, Abraham, for courage that we might
be granted the same hope in God’s promises.
Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to
maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life.
She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral
Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental
psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is
a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral
parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday
life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children,
David and Maggie.
We hope you
enjoy "Come and See!"
and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at
with questions, comments, and responses.
© 2009 - 2018, Elaine H. Ireland -