Today’s readings for the 28th Sunday in ordinary time help us understand a basic principle of God. Naaman is seeking healing from his leprosy. Guided by his servant to turn to the God of Israel, he approaches the Prophet Elisha who tells him to go wash seven times in the Jordan. Naaman expecting something grand for his healing nearly returns to his country after such a simple suggestion.
However, he grudgingly follows the directive of the holy man and healed. Similarly, the ten lepers who approach Jesus for healing from the same disease are simply told by Jesus to go show themselves to the priests. It is on their way they discover they are healed. Only the one returns to Jesus to give thanks, recognizing the healing indeed came from the Lord. Jesus makes clear to this one his faith saved him.
How often do we turn to God seeking something? How often do we only realize after the fact that God indeed answered our prayer? How often the answer does not look like what we anticipated, but the response was clearly from God? How often do we return to God to give thanks?
The Mass is a similar place where God works, but in simple, yet profound ways. Listen to these words on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council:
The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator , they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all. (SC: #48)
Do we allow the Word of God to be instruction for our life, or do we simply listen to the Word proclaimed at Mass and then quickly forget what we have heard? St. Paul reminds us today: “the Word of God is not chained.” Jesus in the Gospel tells us: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and act on it.” The Letter to the Hebrews further teaches regarding God’s Word: Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Pope Francis teaches in his first encyclical, The Light of Faith: “Faith accepts this Word as a solid rock upon which we can build, a straight highway on which we can travel.” (LF #10) Faith in God, faith in God’s Word gives us life, it is the faith Jesus references in today’s Gospel when speaking to the man healed of leprosy: “Your faith has saved you.” We are called to regularly spend time with God’s Word. We are called to listen with faith and love to Christ who speaks to us in the Word of God. We are called to build our life upon this solid rock, as St. Paul reminds us today in the Letter to Timothy; “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful.”
Today is also the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. 96 years ago in Portugal, Our Lady appeared on the 13th of each month for the six months in a row to three young children. On this date, the children were accompanied by some 70,000 others who had come to witness the promised miracle. On this day, Our Lady revealed herself to the children as the Lady of the Rosary. She pleaded for people to pray the rosary and to stop offending God. Many present witnessed the now famous miracle of the ‘dancing sun.’
Today in Rome, with little fanfare, our Holy Father, Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At Fatima, Our Lady told us that devotion to her Immaculate Heart would save sinners and bring about peace. This message is simple as is its requested practice of praying the rosary.
Let us open our hearts to the accompanying presence of our Mother, Mary, that she may lead us to Christ, to holiness, to peace.0