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Tag Archive | "Catholic"

Living in gratitude


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs

 

November reminds us of that the great civil holiday in the United States of America—Thanksgiving. If you attend Church on that Thursday morning with a Catholic community, chances are you will hear Luke 17:11-19:

As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” 

Let’s reflect upon the importance of the gift of healing for these ten lepers.

Leprosy is a terrible illness for those who lived before and during the time of Jesus:  According to Mosaic law, those who were inflicted with this illness were declared unclean by the priest, and they were prevented from encountering others so as not to make them unclean (Lev. 13:45, 46; Deut 5:2). Jesus, in the Gospel today, not only healed the ten lepers but also instructed them to “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Lk 17: 14). Jesus made this command so that the priests could declare them clean and thus not only would physical healing be complete, but their emotional well-being would also be restored.

Sadly, only one person returned to thank Jesus and that led the Lord to say, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17: 17-18). Jesus called the Samaritan leper who returned to give him thanks “this foreigner” as a reminder for us of the mutual animosity between Jews and Samaritans. From the Jews’ point of view, the Samaritans were “the illegitimate” siblings and were unclean. Samaritans, considered to be unclean by Jews, constructed their own place of worship, a temple on Mt. Gerizim, erected in the fourth century B.C. Jesus highlights the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper as an example to His contemporaries and to all of us as well: the characteristic of being people of God is not whether we are born as a Jew or Samaritan, but it is in living a life of gratitude to God who heals all of our spiritual leprosy, namely sin which damages our relationship with God and with one another.

So, on Thanksgiving, don’t forget to gather in Churches or houses of prayer to show gratitude to the Lord for the many gifts, especially for healing of our spiritual leprosy by the Blood of Christ poured out on the Cross.

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Take It with You


by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

When I first met Father Thad I was a Baptist minister and he was the priest at the neighborhood Catholic parish. Thad was an astonishing man, a depository of mind-warping experiences, not the least of which was a personal story I loved to hear him tell.

A parish he once led desperately needed to expand its ministry. But one man in the parish absolutely resisted, always squelching prospective change by saying something like, “My grandfather gave the land for this church; my daddy cleared the trees for the building; and we’re not going to change anything.” (Catholics don’t have a monopoly on this sentiment).

Thad finally had enough. In his remarkable way, he secured a diocese blessing and obtained a piece of land on the other side of town. He called the local house builders, and had the church relocated! I have this charming picture in my mind of the church, steeple atop, rolling down the road on stilts led by a vestment-clad Father Thad, reading the gospel and splashing holy water along the way.

When I first heard that story, I told Thad, “If you were a Protestant, you could have just started another church.” His response was priceless: “Why start another church, when you can take it with you?”

Truth told, that is pretty good ecclesiology. Ecclesiology is what seminarians call the “doctrine of the church.” It answers the question: “What is the nature of the church?” After several hundred years of modernity and religious institutionalism, more and more people are recognizing that the church is not a building. The church is a people, not a place. It is a living movement, not a fixed address.

When the last homilies, sermons, songs, testimonies, and prayers are offered at your congregation or parish on Sunday morning, you don’t leave the church. You will leave a specific gathering of the church, certainly, but you take the church with you—because the church is you. You take it on the road, across town, into your workplace or university, into your living room, classroom, and boardroom: You embody the presence of Christ in the world.

We will not be defined so much by “where we go to church,” but by whether or not we will be the church once we leave the building. As Father Thad put it so accurately: “Why start another church, when you can take it with you?”

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me

 

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