2019 October 13 / 28th Sunday
●● 2 Kings 5:14-17 ● Psalm 98 ● 2 Timothy 2:8-13 ● Luke 17:11-19 ●●
[__01__] I’d like to reflect on what is peculiar about the moment in the Gospel …and what is prescribed in the mercy of Jesus …. And what is proclaimed in the message of gratitude.
What is PECULIAR, what is PRESCRIBED, what is PROCLAIMED.
[__02__] What was peculiar to me on the afternoon of August 26th was that I got a flat tire on my car – the front passenger side tire was punctured by some sharp metal in the parking lot. It was not the first flat tire I have ever had. But the peculiar moment was that I was in a new geographical place, out of town, visiting family in the state of Rhode Island.
The place was peculiar, strange.
[__03__] What is normal and regular PRESCRIBED “mercy” (prescription = [Rx]) for such a driving difficulty? Call AAA, call for roadside assistance or – if you are really high-tech, use the app. You do not have to call anyone.
Pray also. Jesus, master, have pity on me. (And – call family for moral support et cetera, et cetera). AAA was 90 minutes away.
That is the usual way, my default.
But, at this very moment – kind of out of the blue, I received a phone call from a friend.
During the conversation which I answered …I was almost embarrassed to to admit to another ADULT – yes I am this vain – that I had tried but never successfully removed a flat tire and put on the spare tire in my life.
And, my friend did not say … why don’t you call AAA – that was not the message of mercy.
The message of mercy was, however, something I had never ever considered in the realm of physics and torque and how things turn.
My friend says … new [Rx] for me and says – just put the wrench on the tire. Then step on the wrench… the lug nut will loosen … it will work, you will be on your way. It worked perfectly. The new [Rx] worked …and I was out of my peculiar predicament.
The next day I drove to a repair shop and got a new tire.
I thanked my friend both on the phone and later in person and proclaimed the good news.
So, I was in a peculiar moment out of town, I got a prescription of mercy of what to do…and I proclaimed that message…
[__04__] I’d like to reflect on this Gospel today in terms of what is [PECULIAR] about the moment … what is [PRESCRIBED]/ [Rx] in Jesus’ mercy ..and what is [PROCLAIMED] in the message of the 1 leper .. and then consider how we might receive this as the Good News.
What is peculiar about the moment is the geography. Jesus is in between – we read – in between Samaria and Galilee. He is neither completely inside nor fully outside the so-called beltway of Judaism.
Here in this peculiar particular place, he meets 10 lepers who are crying out “have pity on us.” No one wanted them, they were exiled, ostracized and imprisoned by this contagious disease.
[__05__] What is [PRESCRIBED]/ [Rx] for the lepers…
Is it the usual default ancient equivalent of “roadside assistance” where someone else is going to fix and heal the lepers…or should we just exile them, put them on an island …in quarantine?
That’s what was usuall PRESCRIBED.
But, Jesus prescribed something different for their healing and for our healing.
That is, Jesus does not just give them the CONVENIENCE of relief from pain, but also the COMMITMENT of a relationship with their faith community, with the Temple, with the Church.
Look – one of our own corporal works of mercy is to visit the sick, take care of the sick.
And, when are sick – physically - we are usually very aware of how the healing comes from outside of ourselves…that we are dependent.
And, when we do get a PRESCRIPTION of healing that works, we proclaim that message. We want to be in a relationship with such a physician, right?
But, do we accept the same prescription and make the same proclamation about the healing of forgiveness.
John Henry Newman – who will soon be canonized – observed that we usually give credit to the doctor even when we have to do things to get healed.
John Henry Newman observed that while a patient is responsible for taking the medicine or doing the exercises, this does not make the work of the doctor any less significant, does it?
We proclaim the good news about the doctor.
My example of the flat tire is, of course, much less serious “diagnosis” and predicament, but I could not figure it on my own.
[__07__] In the healing of souls and forgivness of our sins, we also need intervention from outside…
We might prefer to imagine the forgiveness is like our own immune system kicking in to fight a virus.
All of us need to be prodded or encouraged – converted away from our sinful selves, away from our attachment to PRIDE or FEAR or INDIFFERENCE.
But the prescription is that we need the love of God and love of neighbor – including the love of parents, teachers, friends – in order to be healed in this way.
But, forgiveness and the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood is a gift from outside, his life laid down for us. And, we PROCLAIM it each day: e.g., “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed… ”
[__08__] What is peculiar about this moment for many who are here this Sunday at Mass is their allegiance and connection to Our Lady of Lourdes School. We welcome our school alumnae and alumni who are here to recall there time at 100 Valley Way and friends they made, and lessons learned…some of which involved books and paper.
[__09__] To recall our school days, we recall that education and learning often prescribes …rules, guidelines and may even be recalled as austere or strict or not always fun.
But, in all of this prescribing and prescription, is there not contained also some lessons that we could not teach ourselves that we could not have possibly learned on our own, and even both the moments when we felt either successful or unsuccessful at school, there were prescriptions of mercy from the sisters who taught us, from the teachers who taught us.. from many.
And, that we needed the help of so many teachers, and a good school principal, and aides, and classmates and our parents, to take and receive the “medicine” / “homework” that was prescribed.
And, now as alumni and alumnae we can give thanks for this education to proclaim it to others and to remember that in our own pursuit of wisdom and knowledge, it is not only our intelligence that counts or how fast we got it that mattered…. Or what percentile we were in… but but that we were together and remain together, persevering, that it is our faith that saved us.
This is what we proclaim. [__fin__]