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"Where are the other nine?"

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 130(129):3-4 – “If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But with You is found forgiveness, O God of Israel.”

First Reading: 2 Kfa 5:14-17 – “Naaman returned to the man of God and acknowledged the Lord.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4 – “The Lord has revealed to the nations His saving power.”

Second Reading: 2 Tm 2:8-13 – “If we persevere we shall also reign with Christ.”

Alleluia: 1 Thes 5:18 – “Alleluia, alleluia. In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Alleluia, alleluia.”

Gospel: Lk 17:11-19 – “None but this foreigner has returned to give thanks to God!”

Communion Antiphon: Ps 34(33):11 – “The rich suffer want and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no blessing.”

Where are the other nine? Those are rather chilling words when we think about it. And having heard that question, ask yourselves this: Are we one of the “other nine” or are we the “one” who returned to Jesus? These are some interesting questions we can ask ourselves as we listened to the Scripture readings this weekend.

In today’s readings, we hear two stories of healing. In the First Reading, Naaman, a foreigner, was healed from his leprosy after plunging into the Jordan River seven times as instructed by the prophet Elisha. In the Gospel, ten lepers are healed of their leprosy as they are walking to present themselves to the priests, per Jesus’ instruction. We can only imagine the relief and joy all these people must have felt at realizing they were healed. The years of suffering and ostracism from society were finally behind them and they could live an ordinary life.

This joy is reflected in Naaman’s response. He wanted to give Elisha a gift to show his appreciation and gratitude. But Elisha would not accept a gift, and this redirected Naaman to a more appropriate response – to recognize that the God of Israel whom Elisha served was the only true God and the only one worthy of worship and praise.

With the lepers, we can only imagine the amazement and joy they must have felt when they looked at or touched their skin and found it was healed.

This entire experience prompted one of the lepers, a Samaritan, to turn around and return to Jesus and fall at His feet, recognizing that Jesus was no ordinary man. His gratitude, his recognition of what God had done for him through Jesus, brought about an additional gift – faith and salvation. Like Naaman, this healing was a catalyst for the Samaritan, and it led him on a new spiritual path. He was able to recognize that Jesus wasn’t offering a return to his previous life but was inviting him to a new one.

Through this healing, Jesus had invited all ten lepers to this new path that leads to faith and salvation. But only one of them seems to have been able to recognize and to have accepted this invitation. What kept the other nine from doing so as well? We do not know.

But one thing we should know is that we do know that the Lord has done something amazing and life-changing for us. He has redeemed us through His Passion, His Death, and His Resurrection and He remains here, with us, in the Eucharist, to sustain and strengthen us. And should we fall into the temptation of walking away, the Lord works to draw us back and is always ready to receive us back into His fold. Every time we come to Mass we should give thanks to the Lord for His faithfulness and goodness. We need to give thanks for the new life God offers us in Christ Jesus.

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