Gratitude for Healing
(28th Ordinary Sunday: 2 Kings 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19)
Since we are going to reflect on gratitude, we begin by thanking all of you, our faithful readers, and those among you who occasionally send helpful and encouraging comments.
We will also be discussing healing. In today’s first reading, one leper, Naaman, is healed, while in the gospel ten lepers are healed. Expressions of faith and gratitude follow these healings.
Our Lady of La Salette wept over the death of children and the famine that had already begun to ravage Europe. The cause was a sort of leprosy, not of persons but of the staple foods. Mary spoke of spoiled wheat and potatoes, rotting grapes and worm-eaten walnuts. The despair provoked by all this was not unlike that experienced by lepers, even in modern times.
In a prophetic vision of abundance, the Beautiful Lady promised healing for the earth, so to speak, and relief from famine for her people.
Naaman returned to Elisha, saying, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. Please accept a gift from your servant.” Note why, when, and how his gratitude is expressed. The why is self-evident. The when: as soon as possible. The how: by offering gifts to Elisha, yes, but at a deeper level by his conversion to the faith of Israel.
Naaman plunged into the Jordan seven times. The action makes us think of baptism; the number reminds us of the sacraments, perpetual memorials of our conversion to God’s love.
Pilgrims to La Salette often return home with water from the spring where Mary appeared. Naaman took two mule-loads of earth, to use as a sort of prayer mat, as a permanent reminder of God’s mercy.
In the gospel, ten lepers were cleansed. One “realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Jesus then told him: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Cleansed, healed, saved. Such are the signs, fruits, and even sometimes the cause of conversion. The exact order is of little importance. What matters most is that, once we have first-hand knowledge of God’s mercy, we live grateful and faithful lives.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse