Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Thank You” Helpers or Jesus?

The recent announcement of the Government plan to repatriate the Australian families of the Islamic terrorists currently in Syrian camps raised some eyebrows.  Australia is seriously against any kind of terrorism, let alone the brutal activities of ISIS.  Then how can we allow the families of the terrorists to come home to our neighbourhood?  I would like to reflect on the issue with some inspiration from Luke 17:11-19.

The Gospel is about ten lepers healed by Jesus.  A word about the context of it is important to understand the lesson of this narrative.  Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, a journey he resolutely started to fulfil an important mission, his self-sacrifice on the Cross.  On his way from Galilee to Jerusalem, Jesus had to pass through Samaria.  But the Samaritans would not receive him because he was on his way to Jerusalem (Ref. Luke 9:53).  That animosity did not stop Jesus from accepting the leper from Samaria to be included in his healing ministry.  That does not mean that Jesus approved the Samaritan interpretation of the religion, or their temple on Mount Gerissim as the legitimate religious authority.  Jesus sent all ten lepers to the priests in Jerusalem to be presented there as required by the Jewish Law.  If Jesus, who did not approve of the way of life of the Samaritans, was happy to include them in his ministry of saving, don’t we Christians, though not approve of the mad terrorism of the jihadists, want to save the children from the misery of camps in Syria?

The Gospel has more lessons for us.  All ten lepers were sent to the priests in Jerusalem, a standard practice for those who were to be re-included into the religious and social life of Judaism.  But the Samaritan, a foreigner, returns to Jesus to worship and praise him.  Unlike the rest, the Samaritan preferred Jesus of the Jerusalem priest. What the healed leper of Samaria did should challenge us to see where our loyalties are.  For the many spiritual and other blessings we receive, do we acknowledge Jesus our saviour; or are we happy just writing a nice “thank you” note to other service providers?