Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

How Can I Ever Thank You: Reflection On The Sunday Gospel By Fr. Michael Barrow, S.J.

How Can I Ever Thank You: Reflection On The Sunday Gospel                          By Fr. Michael Barrow, S.J.

To prepare for Sunday Mass it is a good idea to read and give thought to the readings in your missal or Bible. Here are some questions to ponder.

First Reading [Kings 5:14-17] Naaman expected special and involved treatment. To communicate with you does God use more often, extraordinary signs or ordinary ones 

Second Reading [1 Timothy 2:8-13] "I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen" Is Paul saying that our suffering is linked with the salvation of others? Gospel [Luke 17:11-19] 

We see foreigners who were grateful: the leper who was a foreigner, and in the first reading the Syrian Naaman. We will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalized!

How can I ever thank you enough?

There is a natural reaction in us when we have been particularly blessed not just to say thank you but to want to give something or do something in return

A wonderful description of it comes in this Sunday's Old Testament reading when a man called Naaman is cured of leprosy. He immediately goes back to the prophet Elisha with a whole pile of valuable stuff, feeling so grateful that he must give something in return. Elisha refuses to accept the gift, partly to make it clear that the healing came from God and not from him, but also that Naaman may appreciate that he can never fully repay the blessing he has received.

There is something natural in us to want to show our gratitude to the Lord. "How can I give thanks to the Lord for his goodness to me?" (psalm 116) is a natural tendency. If we are to express our thanks to God our Lord, it will be partly in words and in prayer of thanksgiving, but we need to do more than that. Gratitude is shown in what we do, not in what we say. But what can we do?

It is worth noticing that the various people in the Bible who want to express their gratitude are nearly always outcasts, in other words people everyone looked down on. For instance in the healing of the ten lepers Jesus points out that the one who came back to thank him was a foreigner, not a good practising religious Jew. Naaman who so wanted to show his gratitude was an unbeliever, not worshipping the one true God as we do. In telling the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus wasn't talking just of a good man – he was making a point that he was a Samaritan, and no-one could stand that a lot!

Perhaps this is an indication of the best way to show our gratitude to God for the blessings we have received is how we treat the lepers of our own day – the poor, hungry and homeless, the victims of war and oppression, the suffering and dying. After being practically unscathed when the storm Matthew passed by us, how can we possibly ignore the people of Haiti battered by the hurricane? We see so much suffering and need in the news on television and in the papers that we can become too used to it to care. 

Reflection On The Sunday Gospel, Luke 17. 11-19 ...