Missionary Meditation for Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
St. Dionysius and Companion Martyrs; St. John Leonardi, Priest
The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power
BIBLICAL-MISSIONARY COMMENTARY (Meditations by Pierre Diarra)
“Have not all ten been cleansed? The other nine, where are they? There was no one among them but this foreigner to retrace his steps and give glory to God! These words of Jesus may seem provocative. The foreigner is given as an example. He does indeed retrace his steps to thank Jesus and give glory to God. Jesus goes further by saying to him, “Get up and go: your faith has saved you.” The foreigner believed that he was indeed healed and that it was the work of Jesus but also the work of God. For him, there is no doubt, Jesus has some privileged links with God, since he can heal. And the others who are not foreigners, why did they not retrace their steps? Do they think they have the right to this healing, because they are Jews? God, their saviour, owes it to them, right? Is it because they doubt that their healing is not complete? Is it because they want to continue their journey to show themselves to the priests, as Jesus asked them? As soon as they have found Jesus, is it still necessary to go to the priests of the covenant? All these questions lead us to reflect, to question ourselves in a fundamental way about the links we must have with the Lord Jesus. If we consider the gifts, blessings and graces that God bestows upon us as something due to us, we will find it difficult to thank the Lord. We will find it difficult to recognize his gratuitous love, the salvation offered without any merit on our part. We will not be in a hurry to give thanks.
We are invited to give thanks unceasingly. Is this not the first meaning of the Eucharist? We are invited to sing with the psalmist this hymn to the Saviour, king of the universe and history. It is a “new song” meaning, in biblical language, a perfect, complete, solemn song that will have to be accompanied by festive musical pageantry: the harp, the trumpet and the horn, but perhaps also by clapping hands and even a cosmic applause. The sea, the mountains, the earth and the whole world, especially the inhabitants of the earth are invited to sing the wonders of God, to dance with joy before the Lord. Our gratitude must lead us to give thanks with all our heart, with all our being, by singing, by clapping hands, by playing musical instruments as if we associate all creation with our thanksgiving.
“Our God” is at the centre of the scene of acclamation and festive singing. He, the Creator, activates salvation in history and is expected to “judge”, that is, to govern the world and peoples, to bring them, as a good sovereign, peace and justice. The history of Israel is evoked, with images of its “right “ and “ most holy arm “ that refer to the Exodus, the liberation from slavery in Egypt, but also to the desert where God did not let his people starve to death. God also gave His people His Law, rules for conducting themselves. The covenant with the chosen people is recalled, with the two great divine perfections: love and faithfulness. These signs of salvation are there for all, all nations and the whole earth. Thus, all humankind and even the whole of creation are drawn to the Saviour God, the God-Love announced in the First Testament. All human beings are invited to open themselves to the word of the Lord and to His saving work. All are invited to welcome the Word and beyond that the Lord Himself.
The great dance of thanksgiving becomes the expression of hope and even an invocation: “Thy kingdom come!” What a joy it is to participate in the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth: a reign of peace, justice and serenity that pervades all creation! This psalm undoubtedly unveils undoubtedly a prophecy of the work of God in the mystery of Christ. In the Gospel, in fact, God’s righteousness has been revealed (Rom 1:17), manifested (Rom 3:21), as the apostle Paul pointed out to the Romans. God saves His people, and all the nations of the earth are in awe of this. From the Christian perspective, God brings about salvation in Christ and all peoples are invited to enjoy this salvation. It is no longer reserved for the people of the Covenant; the new Covenant opens salvation to all. The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of every human being who has become a believer, the Jew as well as the Gentile (Rom 1:16). Not only have all nations seen the salvation of “our God” (Ps 97:3), but they have received it or, in various ways, salvation is offered to all.
The “new song” of the psalm may appear as an invitation to celebrate in anticipation the Christian newness of the crucified Redeemer. What joy for believers to acclaim the Risen One, on Easter Day but also every time our salvation is celebrated in the Eucharist, especially on Sunday, the Mystery of our salvation. Christ suffered the Passion as man, but he saved us as God. He performed miracles among the Jews, cleansed lepers, gave food to countless people and, like other prophets, raised the dead to life. But why does he merit a new song? Because God died so that we might live. Because the Son of God was crucified to make us adopted children and to draw us into the Kingdom, into Heaven, with the Father.
If we have died with Christ, with Him we will live. If we endure trials, with him we will reign. If we reject him, he too will reject us, but his tenderness and forgiveness remain forever offered to us. If we lack faith, he remains faithful to his word, for he cannot disown his own self. It is the strongest, most significant expression of love; there is no greater love than to give one’s life for those one loves. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 15:12-15). The Salvation offered remains available to all. The Holy Spirit remains offered to us, hence the importance of holding deep in our hearts this word of Paul: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the descendant of David! In times of trials and persecutions, may faith in the Risen Crucified One give us the joy to sing, without weakening, a new song in honour of God-Love! He invites us, in all the circumstances of life, to offer all our contemporaries salvation in Jesus Christ. We are “missionary disciples”!
Useful points to consider:
Pope Francis, Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Marian Jubilee, Homily, St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 9 October 2016
This Sunday’s Gospel (cf. Lk 17:11-19) invites us to acknowledge God’s gifts with wonder and gratitude. […]To be able to offer thanks, to be able to praise the Lord for what he has done for us: this is important! So we can ask ourselves: Are we capable of saying “Thank you”? How many times do we say “Thank you” in our family, our community, and in the Church? How many times do we say “Thank you” to those who help us, to those close to us, to those who accompany us through life? Often we take everything for granted! This also happens with God. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to return and give thanks... That is why Jesus so emphasizes the failure of the nine ungrateful lepers: “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Lk 17:17-18).
Pope Francis, Holy Mass and Canonization of the Blesseds: John Henry Newman, Giuseppina Vannini, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Dulce Lopes Pontes, Marguerite Bays, Homily, St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 13 October 2019
“Your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:19). This is the climax of today’s Gospel, which reflects the journey of faith. There are three steps in this journey of faith. We see them in the actions of the lepers whom Jesus heals. They cry out, they walk and they give thanks.
First, they cry out. The lepers […] did not let themselves be paralyzed because they were shunned by society; they cried out to God, who excludes no one. We see how distances are shortened, how loneliness is overcome: by not closing in on ourselves and our own problems, by not thinking about how others judge us, but rather by crying out to the Lord, for the Lord hears the cry of those who find themselves alone. […] That is how faith grows, through confident, trusting prayer. Prayer in which we bring to Jesus who we really are, with open hearts, without attempting to mask our sufferings. Each day, let us invoke with confidence the name of Jesus: “God saves”. Let us repeat it: that is prayer, to say “Jesus” is to pray. And prayer is essential! Indeed, prayer is the door of faith; prayer is medicine for the heart.
The second word is to walk. […] They were healed by going up to Jerusalem, that is, while walking uphill. On the journey of life, purification takes place along the way, a way that is often uphill since it leads to the heights. Faith calls for journey, a “going out” from ourselves, and it can work wonders if we abandon our comforting certainties, if we leave our safe harbours and our cosy nests. Faith increases by giving, and grows by taking risks. Faith advances when we make our way equipped with trust in God. […]
There is a further interesting aspect to the journey of the lepers: they move together. The Gospel tells us that, “as they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). The verbs are in the plural. Faith means also walking together, never alone. Once healed, however, nine of them go off on their own way, and only one turns back to offer thanks. Jesus then expresses his astonishment: “The others, where are they?” (v. 17). It is as if he asks the only one who returned to account for the other nine. It is the task of us, who celebrate the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving, to take care of those who have stopped walking, those who have lost their way. We are called to be guardians of our distant brothers and sisters, all of us! We are to intercede for them; we are responsible for them, to account for them, to keep them close to heart. Do you want to grow in faith? You, who are here today, do you want to grow in faith? Then take care of a distant brother, a faraway sister.
To cry out. To walk. And to give thanks. This is the final step. Only to the one who thanked him did Jesus say: “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19). It made you both safe, and sound. We see from this that the ultimate goal is not health or wellness, but the encounter with Jesus. […] He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts. Only an encounter with him can save, can make life full and beautiful. Whenever we meet Jesus, the word “thanks” comes immediately to our lips, because we have discovered the most important thing in life, which is not to receive a grace or resolve a problem, but to embrace the Lord of life. And this is the most important thing in life: to embrace the Lord of life.
 We offer for this Sunday the meditation by Prof. Pierre Diarra of PMU France, taking the opportunity to thank him again sincerely for this text. He wrote, at our request, the liturgical commentaries for all the days of the missionary month of October 2022, sent by email to the PMS national directors at the beginning of the year for their use in missionary animation.