daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 28th Sunday of the Year, October 13, 2013
2 Kings 5:14-17, Ps. 95, 2 Tim. 2:8-13, Luke 17:11-19

"Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan" (Luke 17:15-16).

Today ten lepers are healed by Jesus, but only one of them returned to give thanks to God and to Jesus. So Jesus said, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:17-18). We see here the importance of giving thanks to God for all that he does for us.

This cure changed the whole life of these ten men. It not only cured their leprosy but also changed their relationship with their community, for lepers had to live alone, outside the town or city, and they could not even worship in the temple. "The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean, unclean.' He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp" (Lev. 13:45-46).

All this has now changed for these ten men. When they show themselves to the priests, they will declare them clean, and they can then return to living a normal life with their relatives, friends, and community, and worship God in the temple. Jesus transformed the life of these ten men. And their response should be to give thanks to God for all Jesus did for them. But only one of them returned to give thanks.

It is the same with us. Christ changes our life too. Every time we receive a favor from him, we should give him thanks. Today Jesus shows us that this is what he wants of us. This is what he expects. The psalms are filled with thanksgiving to God for his blessings.

Every time God forgives us of something, we should give him thanks. Sin is the leprosy of our spirit that separates us from other people and from God. It makes us live alone, isolated, depressed, and weighed down with guilt and shame. We live in sadness and darkness as a consequence of our sins, and we cannot get out of this pit by our own power. Only God can save us from this leprosy, from this darkness. So we turn to him in prayer, begging his help, mercy, and salvation, asking for forgiveness.

God forgives us through the merits of Christ's death on the cross, where he propitiated the justice of God for us (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2) and placated his wrath against us for our sins (Rom. 5:9). God punished him instead of us for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:5) and counts his suffering on the cross as though it were ours in reparation for our sins. Thus did Christ make full and just satisfaction and reparation for our sins. This is applied personally to us when we put our faith in him and in his saving death on the cross, and so our sins are justly expiated. The merits of Christ's death are applied to us in a profoundly intimate, personal, and experiential way in the sacrament of reconciliation, which Christ himself instituted and gave to us for this purpose (John 20:22-23), because he knew we needed it to really feel forgiven.

The merits of Christ's death on the cross renew us, giving us a new life, or renewing our life in Christ if it was darkened by sin. This salvation that we find in his cross changes every aspect of our life. As a leper had to live apart and alone, isolated and ostracized from his community, so does sin do to us, separating us from other people and from God. And without an intimate relationship with God, there is no happiness in this world. The merits of Christ on the cross change all this for us, dissipating the darkness in which we were living and lifting the sadness, guilt, and shame that filled our spirit.

Now, then, once forgiven, after repenting and changing our direction and confessing our sins, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation, we have a new life. Our life is radically changed, and we really feel forgiven. Now our depression vanishes, our guilt is lifted from us, and the darkness in which we were living is changed into light. God fills us with his own light. He heals our heart, filling it with his love and grace, and the Holy Spirit begins once again to flow through us like rivers of living water, rejoicing our heart (John 7:37-39).

In Christ we experience the regeneration of our spirit. We are born anew in him. It is like what happened to Naaman in the first reading. Full of leprosy, "he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (2 Kings 5:14). This is what took place in us when we were baptized. The leprosy of original sin was removed from us, and we were born anew as new men, a new creation.

We have to live in the mystery of our baptism, and renew it, for in this way its reality is actualized for us through our present, living faith in Christ and our sincere repentance. We are in this way born anew in him with all our sins forgiven and with the burden and darkness of our guilt and shame removed from us. The righteousness of the risen Christ then begins to shine within us; and so we have the righteousness of God, which comes from the cross of Christ through faith, shining within us.

When this happens, we are like these lepers after they were healed and their lives were transformed. So we should return to Christ and give thanks to God for having healed us of the leprosy of sin, for integrating us once again into our community, and for making us adopted sons of God, new men in his service.


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