Year C 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Kgs.5:14-17; 2 Tim. 2:8-13; LK 17:11-19

Today's First Reading [2 Kgs. 5:14-17] from the Second Book of Kings describes the healing of Naaman, a foreigner in the land of Israel. Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favour with his master, because by him the Lord had given
victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy." [2 Kgs. 5:1]

On one of their raid in the land of Israel, the Arameans had taken a young girl captive. [2 Kgs. 5:2] This young girl served Naaman's wife. She told her mistress that if Naaman was with the prophet who is in Samaria, he would be cured of his leprosy. [2 Kgs. 5:3] Hearing of this, Naaman repeated this comment to the king of Aram. Consequently, the king of Aram told Naaman to go and that he would provide him with a letter to the king of Israel. Naaman left, taking with him a number of gifts to present to the king of Israel. [2 Kgs. 5:3-5]

When the king of Israel read the letter, he got very upset and thought that the king of Aram was trying to pick a quarrel with him. In the meantime, Elisha the man of God heard of it and he sent a message to the king, asking him to let Naaman come to him so that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel. [2 Kgs. 5:8] Naaman went to Elisha. But Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean." [2 Kgs. 5:9-10].  Naaman was furious at the instruction given by the prophet. But those who accompanied him persuaded him to obey the prophet, and subsequently he was healed.

The example of Naaman  gives us a great message. Naaman expected Elisha to cure him in the way expected. So the ways of the prophet annoyed him and he was furious. When praying to God  often we too  maintain the same attitude. We expect things to happen in our way.

Sometimes God gives us exactly what we ask for, when we ask for it. But when His answers don't come right away, it's often because He has something much better for us. Many years ago, a wise man offered his two beloved nephews a gift: A dime today, or a dollar next week. The younger boy took the dime and ran to the store to buy a handful of candy. The older nephew's mouth watered as he watched his brother enjoy the sweets, but he waited patiently for the week to pass. He received the promised dollar, and bought a toy that he enjoyed for a long time afterward.

This story illustrates how God may hold back something we want, or give us something different, which in the long term will prove to be much better. He tells us that "My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). God's "yes" to our prayer might look very different from what we expect.

Today's reading from  the Gospel of Luke, [Lk. 17:11-19] gives the account of healing ten lepers, nine  Jewish and the tenth  a Samaritan. It is interesting to note here that while the Jewish people normally did not mix with the Samaritans. But this group of lepers consisted of both Jews and a Samaritan. As we heard, out of those ten, the one who was a foreigner, was the only one who returned and thanked Jesus.

As a general rule, when a Jewish leper was healed, he had to go to the local priest to confirm that he was now clean and permitted to mix among the general public. For the Samaritan, more was demanded. Most likely, he had to go to his own priest near Mount Gerizim. This demand of Jesus required a greater act of obedience because of the travelling involved. While the demand was greater upon the Samaritan, he was the only one to show gratitude for the gift of healing that he received.

There is a story about the ingratitude of people who receive favours from God.

God sent two angels to the earth. One was given the duty of collecting the supplications, and the other was to collect thanks giving. The angels in charge of supplications filled his box in few minutes and had to travel to heaven many times. But, the angel in charge of collecting thanks giving could barely collect a box till evening.
Many of our prayers are answered. But how many go back to God for showing gratitude to the blessings we received.

The psalmist expresses his gratitude towards God for the good things he had received.
Jesus' prayer was always filled with thanks giving.

Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus told them to roll the stone aside. So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, thank you for hearing me." Then he commanded Lazarus to come out.

This is an attitude that we should cultivate. Be grateful to God for the blessings that we receive. When we are beset with problems think of the people who are less fortunate than us. When we open our eyes to the world and see the world around us we will  realize the innumerable ways that God bad blessed us. Then Like Naaman, Like the Samaritan  we will turn to God with thanks giving.