Chapter Talk – October 9, 2022 – 28th Sunday – cycle-C
Today’s gospel is the healing of the ten lepers (Lk 17:11-19). There are several themes that one can draw out of this gospel. One being ‘thanksgiving’ and how gratitude keeps the heart wide open as it acknowledges the extravagant gifts of God upon us, especially in our need. The gospel concludes with Jesus addressing the one leper who returned to offer thanksgiving for the healing he received. Jesus’ reply is telling us something very important on this journey of faith that we are all on. He first makes a general statement and then addresses the one leper personally: “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”. Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:18-19). What is this about faith? Faith saves…there is more than external healing going on in this story. Faith keeps us in the realm of salvation.
Pope Francis in his homily on this gospel says: “There are three steps in this journey of faith”. Those steps as seen in the story he says are: “to cry out, to walk, to give thanks” (October 13, 2019). In the encounter with Christ the lepers ‘cry out’ for healing. Healing: we are all in need of and this is not specifically physical healing. In the words of Pope Francis: “We need to be healed of our lack of confidence in ourselves, in life, in the future; we need to be healed of our fears and the vices that enslave us, of our introversion, our addictions….” Pope Francis continues by emphasizing the crying out in prayer. He says: “To call someone by name is a sign of confidence, and it pleases the Lord. That is how faith grows, through confident, trusting prayer.” So, I ask myself and us: why do we stay in the whirlwind of these voices that keep us fearful, negative about ourselves, with hopelessness towards community, the world and Church? For healing to happen we need to desire it, to take a step for inner change. To ask for healing brings us into the initial encounter with Christ and then through the encounter the inner dynamic begins to shift. As we leave the encounter, we sense something has happened. Walking away, taking distance, we begin to experience a change: our attitude is different, we begin to see different, no matter how small the change is. And finally, the urge to offer thanks edges into our consciousness…and we return to the encounter with Christ to offer our thanksgiving. This is the faith journey…Can you recognize it in your life? This is prayer, existential prayer, which begins with our need; and the golden thread throughout the encounter is faith.
This simple story reveals the paradigm of faith, and it reveals how faith is integral to healing, thanksgiving, and salvation. The Samaritan was healed, and he was saved. Salvation is more than healing. It effects an inner change of heart and mind. Prayer is an encounter, an encounter with Christ. It is our journey of faith that brings us into this prayer encounter where we do not take for granted all that is given to us daily. Gratitude lived daily expresses our living faith. A sacrifice of thanksgiving brings us into relation with God. We realize that whatever good we do is dependent upon the gifts and graces we are given each day.
‘To cry out, to walk together, to give thanks’: to take this as our daily prayer practice. Faith weaves a pattern of what it means to embody the gospel way, a way that leads us into the heart and mind of Christ, a way of healing, thanksgiving, and salvation.
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess