Bottom line: "If we do thank him, even in this time of pandemic, we will hear those beautiful words, 'Your faith has saved you."
Happy Thanksgiving! Like everything else this year, Thanksgiving will be different. Myself, I'll be getting together only with my brother - but we have asked our niece to send over a few slices of turkey, some dressing and gravy. Your Thanksgiving may also be different. Still one thing we don't want to miss is what Sirach tells us in the first reading: And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth." You know, God not only created this world, he is active at every step. God "fosters people's growth from their mother's womb, and fashions them according to his will!" Dios "ha hecho maravillas en toda la tierra. Él nos dio la vida desde el seno materno y nos ha tratado con misericordia."
We can learn from the Samaritan in today's Gospel. A Samaritan normally wouldn't mix with Jews but in this case they were suffering leprosy - a disease that meant a lifelong quarantine. From a distance they cry out, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" "Jesús, maestro, ten compasión de nosotros".
This cry for mercy touches Jesus, yet he does not immediately cure them. Rather he say, "Go show yourselves to the priests." "Vayan a presentarse a los sacerdotes". You know, sometimes Jesus doesn't answer our prayer immediately but instead tells us to do something. It's not something exotic. The Old Testament does instruct the leper to show himself to the priest to certify whether he can return to society.
On their way the leprosy begins to disappear. The rotting flesh heals and they feel sensation in their hands and feet. One of them returns. Glorifying God, he thanks Jesus.
Now, you can't exactly fault the other nine. They were, after all, following Jesus' instruction to show themselves to the priest. They also may have wanted to get certified as quickly as possible so they could make up for lost time. I remember when I was in Peru, our country parishes had no restaurants. So when we got into Puno, the big city, we would head for a restaurant to get "pollo a la brasa" broaster chickens rotating above an open fire spit. The normal portion was a quarter of chicken with a side of fries. One of the guys who had a heartier appetite than me would eat a whole chicken! That kind of thought must have been in heads of the nine. Who can blame them?
Still, only one returns to thank Jesus. Jesus says to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." "Levántate y vete. Tu fe te ha salvado". Gratitude and faith are almost the same thing. Let me illustrate that with another story from Peru. It happened to one of the older Maryknoll priests. Unlike the rest of us, his first thought wasn't how to get to Puno and devour broaster chicken. He had a deep sense of identification with the people. One year the rains didn't come and the people were facing a possible drought. They asked him to go up a high hill with them and offer a Mass. He accepted even though it was quite a trek. When Mass began, the skies were clear, but he noticed small darkness on the horizon. As the Mass continued, darkness began filling the sky. When priest said the final blessing, the skies open and drenching rain started falling. Soaked to their skin the people hugged each other and danced for joy.
Here, of course, we take rain for granted - and many other things as well. Perhaps this year we won't take our families for granted. And perhaps we will not take Jesus for granted but thank him for things great and small. For water and fire, for sun and moon - and for his blood which covers us like a drenching rain, washes away sin and nourishes us. If we do thank him, even in this time of pandemic, we will hear those beautiful words, "Your faith has saved you." "Tu fe te ha salvado". Amen.
From Archives (Thanksgiving Day Homilies):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru