The readings on the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time focus on the giving of thanks to God for His blessings. Thanksgiving is a key element in living stewardship as a disciple of Christ. One definition of stewardship is “The grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.”
In the first reading from 2 Kings Naaman a foreigner (non-Jew), an army commander and dignitary seeks healing from the horrific disease of leprosy. He hears about the man of God Elisha performing miracles so he and his whole entourage travel to seek his help. Elisha instructs Naaman to plunge himself into the Jordan River seven times (the waters of the Jordan symbolizing Baptism and the number 7 the perfect number in scripture). Naaman is indeed healed and returns to Elisha to offer a heartfelt thanksgiving. Even more important than Naaman’s physical healing is that he proclaims, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.” This is a bold statement of faith for a pagan foreigner.
The first reading of course sets up the Gospel where 10 lepers were healed by Jesus. Besides suffering the physical effects of leprosy these 10 were also suffering as outcasts from the community, separated from all they loved. But only one of the ten returns to Jesus to give thanks, a non-Jew, a foreigner, a Samaritan. And Jesus tells him, “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you.” Even more important than his physical healing is that he is promised salvation.
As disciples of Christ do we give thanks to God for all of His continuous blessings? Or are we like the other 9 who did not return but went on their merry way? We must thank God for the big things (prayers answered) but also for the everyday things we make take for granted: our spouses, families, a roof over our head, a bed to sleep in, a vehicle or 2 or 3, gasoline for those vehicles, our jobs, our clothes, our food, our parish, etc., etc. And the proof or the fruit of our heartfelt thanks is sharing from those blessings in love of God and love of neighbor.
And because of our heartfelt thanksgiving may we hear the words of Jesus, “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you.”