27th Sunday of Ordinary Time-Thank You

I gave this homily today at my home parish.  I’d like to add a big THANK YOU to you for following DeaconCast.

We’ve just gone through the part of the year where we’ve been focused on stewardship.  You’ve heard a lot of homilies that included the words “time, talent, and treasure.”  Now we’ve moved into what some of us call “second collection season.”  It seems like there’s an extra envelope for some cause or other almost every week.  That’s partly because no one wants their collection during the summer when people are off on vacation.  Once school starts up, that’s prime time.

 

Guess what!  I’m not going to ask you to contribute to anything today.  What I do want to do is to say “thank you.”  Thank you for your generous gifts of your time, talent, and treasure.  Thank you for your kind contributions to last week’s collection for my brother deacons in formation.  These men are grateful for your help.

 

Thank you for your support of all the other second collections.   Jesus calls us to help one another and you never fail to do just that.

 

Thank you for your weekly support of our parish.  Jan and I visit other parishes occasionally and I always check the bulletin to see what kind of support those parishioners are giving their church.  Very seldom do I see a parish that’s proportionally more generous than you are.

 

Thanks to all of you who donate your time to further our mission.  I won’t try to  name all the ministries here, because if I do I’m sure to miss someone.  But I want you to know that we appreciate everything that you all do to support our parish family.

 

Last, but not least, I want to thank all of you for your spiritual support.  I know I’ve told this story before, but when Jan and I first moved into this parish, thirty-five years ago, people told us we should go to mass somewhere else because Saint Bernadette wasn’t going to be around much longer.  And, we definitely shouldn’t send our kids to school here.

 

All four of our kids did go to school here, right up until the school did close in 1999, 24 years later and only after a lot of other “strong” schools had already closed.  Thirty five years later the parish is going strong, getting new members virtually every week.

 

Personally, I appreciate the fact that you sit there patiently in the pews, enduring my preaching.  Your faith brings you to church.  You hope that I’ll say something at least half-way intelligent.  And your kind words and encouragement are definitely an act of charity.  Thank you for that.

 

Believe me, what I’ve just said is absolutely sincere.  I thank God that I’m assigned to my home parish, the only parish I’ve really ever belonged to.  I may or may not be here a year from now.  I may not be here next week.  That’s for God and the deacon personnel board to decide, but I’m truly grateful to all of you.  But, I’ve also said these things to make a point.

 

Isn’t it nice when somebody says “thank you”.  Those two words have great power.  In today’s Gospel, only one of the ten lepers who were cleansed came back to Jesus to say “thank you.”  Only one out of ten!  And he was a Samaritan!  Remember that Jews and Samaritans hated each other.  But “this foreigner” as Jesus called him, took the time to come back to thank the Jewish Messiah.

 

He didn’t just stroll up to Jesus and say, “Hey, thanks, man.  I appreciate it.”  “He returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him.”

 

I don’t know what the other nine were thinking.  There’s no way to know.  Were they all Jews?  We don’t know, but Jesus’ words seem to indicate that at least some of the others were Jews, if not all of them.  Maybe, because they WERE Jews, the “chosen people” they felt like they were entitled to be cleansed.

 

Maybe they were just following Jesus’ instructions to go show themselves to the priests.  Maybe they came back later.  We don’t know.

 

But here’s what we DO know.  The Samaritan leper, the one who came back, was saved.  Jesus said “your faith has saved YOU.”  In other words, gratitude and faith are two sides of the same coin.  If you have faith in God you have to be grateful to God.  Isn’t that why we’re really here.  To give Him thanks and praise.  The very word, Eucharist, means “thanksgiving”.  The second half of our liturgy, the part after I finally stop talking, is called the liturgy of the Eucharist; the liturgy of thanksgiving.

 

It’s something we all know we’re supposed to do.  When we were little, what did mom ask us when someone did something nice for us?  “What do you say?”  And, hopefully we’d say “thank you.”

 

Our prayer should be the same.  There’s nothing wrong with asking God for the things we need.  We’re going to do that together in just a few minutes.  But when our prayers are answered, the next logical step is to do what that Samaritan leper did.

 

Even God, the almighty Creator of the universe needs our thanks.  He craves it just as much as we do.  Jesus answered all ten lepers’ prayers by healing them of their physical illness.  But He only saved one of them.  The one who took the time to say “thank you.”

 

 

 

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