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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Wednesday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Leo the Great, 10 Nov. 2021, Lk 17:11-19

I am sure many of you were also taught by your parents to say the so-called “magic words” whenever the occasion calls for it. Words like “Please?”, “Thank you!”, “Sorry.” & “You’re welcome!”

“Please” is supposed to be a basic expression of politeness when asking for anything from anybody. It means you are not demanding it as an entitlement. “Thank you,” on the other hand, is an expression of politeness when you receive what you ask for. It is impolite to just run away with the gift. Weren’t we asked by our parents, especially on Christmas day when we received gifts or aguinaldo from our godparents, “What are you supposed to say, anak?” We were taught to recognize the gift and to acknowledge the giver by saying “THANK YOU PO.”

Our Gospel today tells us one of the ten lepers returned to thank Jesus for the grace of healing that he had received; he was a Samaritan. Luke tells us Jesus asked where the other nine were. I don’t think he was just reacting like a parent who is disappointed when his children forget the magic word. I am more inclined to believe that he was also expressing some sadness that these ten were united in suffering the disease together. No distinction between Jews and Samaritans while they were sick. Now that they are healed, they part ways again.

But let’s go back to the question, “Where are the other nine?” My answer to that is, “They just did as they were told.” Remember, Jesus said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” The instruction is in Leviticus Chapter 14. If the leper feels he is cured of the disease already, he has to be inspected by a priest outside the camp. If the person is really well already, he continues to stay outside the village for another seven days, and then he would present himself to the priests again in order to offer a sacrifice and receive the permission to reenter the village and reunite himself with his family.

I imagine the Samaritan being left behind after receiving the instruction, which applied only to the Jews among them. You see, even if they worshipped the same Yahweh and read the same Torah, the Samaritans and Jews did not see eye to eye with each other about faith and religion. And so, when they were told to go and have themselves inspected by the priests, for the Samaritan, it simply meant he was not included.

Remember that Canaanite woman who was being ignored by the disciples because she was a pagan? Remember how Jesus himself said, “I have come only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel?” Unlike that Canaanite woman who remained persistent even when she was being excluded, this Samaritan leper seemed more resigned to his exclusion. And so you can imagine his surprise when he realizes that he is also healed? Luke says, “Realizing that he had been healed, he returned and…thanked Jesus.”

Is it possible that the other nine had also been healed already but had not yet realized it? After all, they were just doing as they had been instructed; they were waiting for the priest to tell them.

I have seen people who are very gifted and just take it for granted, or they are not even aware of it, until somebody tells them or calls their attention about it through comments like, “Wow, what a voice you have there!” Or “When did you learn to dance like that!” Or “This painting is extraordinary!” Or, “Has anybody told you you write so well?”

The word GRATITUDE, which means THANKFULNESS, comes from the root word GRATIA, which means grace. It means that thankfulness or gratitude begins with a recognition of grace—what St. Luke calls a REALIZATION, in the case of the Samaritan leper in the Gospel. If the Samaritan had wallowed in self-pity for his apparent exclusion, he would probably not have realized the grace that had already come upon him.

Have you ever heard of that story about a driver who received a pair of gloves as gift from his employer on Christmas day? He had heard earlier that his boss had given both the cook and his secretary 5 thousand pesos each. And so he was expecting more. But what he got was just a pair of gloves. He was so disappointed, he threw the box containing the gloves into a bonfire and allowed them to burn. The following day, his boss said, “Have you opened my gift? Did you like the gloves I gave you for Christmas?” He said, “Yes, sir.” The boss then said, “Did you try them on?” “Yes sir, the size is ok.”

“I hope you found the 10 thousand pesos inside. It took me a while rolling them and putting one in each finger of the gloves.” And the driver was speechless.

How many times have we prayed to God for certain things and never even realized that our prayers had long been granted already? In Filipino, there is a saying, “Huwag mong ipagwalang-bahala ang grasya kung ayaw mong lumabo ang iyong mga mata.” In English, “Don’t turn a blind eye on grace if you don’t want your eyes to grow dim.”

Luke tells us that it was at the breaking of bread that the two disciples recognized Jesus. May this Eucharist be an occasion for our eyes to be opened to the gracious act of God in Jesus Christ.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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