Living the Gospel – October 13, 2019

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…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…

I always find it interesting that the Samaritan, whose countrymen were often reviled as idol-worshippers and outcasts, responded to Jesus with gratitude. We remember that it was also a Samaritan who helped the stranger who was attacked and left alongside the road. I asked myself why? Why is it that these Samaritans seemed to understand how to be merciful – and why are they so grateful to God when they are understood and helped? To bring the question even closer – do these Samaritans resemble the “street–smart” people often called the “outcasts and idol-worshippers” who live in our society today? I think that they often do…

People I’ve known who can easily be thought of as “outsiders” – marginalized people from many cultures – frequently have a keen sense of injustice and are skilled in identifying people who truly care about them. Others, such as the nine lepers who never bothered to thank Jesus, resemble the privileged, “entitled” larger group of people who simply don’t understand the needs of their neighbors or the goodness of God. A new question can arise – who, in fact, are the “idol-worshippers” – and who are the people who need healing?

And there’s another important question – in which category do we belong? I think about this question often – sometimes I’m the Samaritan, and sometimes I’m one of the ungrateful nine. Don’t we all need to think about this before we present ourselves to our priest for healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? This frequently neglected Sacrament – you know, the one that can heal our soul, our emotions and our past sins – cure our “leprosy,” bandage our wounds. Then we need to return to God to give thanks like the Samaritan who is healed and learns that God is merciful, generous and faithful to all His People.

Dorothy A. Hathway