Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 13, 2013 Cycle C
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today’s Gospel relates an encounter between Christ and ten lepers: “As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.” They had leprosy, which was considered not only a physical illness but also evidence of a spiritual malady, caused by sin. Leprosy is a repulsive and isolating sickness, which was incurable until recently.  To have leprosy was the worst possible thing that could happen to someone.

The ten lepers were condemned to death. They had no hope and only Jesus could save them. They exclaimed: “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” because they knew Christ was their only hope. 

Jesus cured them all. However, only one came back to thank him for the miracle: “He fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Jesus was surprised that only one had come back to thank him: “Ten were cleansed, were they not?”

In this passage of the Gospel, the ten lepers represent prayer of petition, while the Samaritan leper represents prayer of thanksgiving.

Prayer of petition is more natural and immediate than prayer of thanksgiving. In our lives, we all need so many things. Most of the time when we pray, we are asking God for something. We are needy and we beg.

Is this not true? Many times, when I ask young people if they pray, they answer: “Yes, Father, before tests.”  Today’s Gospel shows us that 90% of our prayer is petition. It is easier to be aware of what we lack.

Is it bad to ask for things from God? Certainly not! The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that petition is the most usual form of prayer: “[…] because the most spontaneous, is petition: by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.”

Only one of the ten lepers came back to thank Jesus for healing him.  It is much harder to thank God than to ask Him for things we need. Only 10% of our prayer is thanksgiving.

It is really important to express thanksgiving to God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “[…] every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, in which the Lord Jesus is always present: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’; ‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.’”

Prayer of thanksgiving completes prayer of petition, brings it to a deeper perfection. When we start thanking God, we enter into a deeper relationship with him. Like the Samaritan, we need to fall at the feet of Jesus and thank him often. We have so many reasons to be grateful!

Jesus says to the Samaritan leper: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Like the leper, we need to return to Jesus. To return to Jesus means to thank him for our many blessings.

May the Holy Spirit help us to pray as we should.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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