Gospel Reflections

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 17:11-19

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Marilyn Pechillo

Published: October 09, 2016


Today’s readings highlight three themes: reverencing the ordinary, moving beyond our expectations, and accepting God’s gifts with gratitude.

Naaman balked at being told to bathe in the river. He had certain expectations of Elisha and was disappointed in being told simply to bathe.

Ten lepers, at least one of whom was a Samaritan, a foreigner, encountered Jesus. They approached with reverence, wanting to win Jesus’ favor and hoping for a cure. Jesus did not immediately cure them; instead He sent them to the priests.

Were they disappointed? After all, Jesus was the healer, the extraordinary one, so why send them to the priests; why have them do the ordinary thing? Had they refused, they would have missed a wonderful gift. In yielding their expectations, they gained the gift God wanted to give.

How often do we balk at being asked to do the mundane, when we would prefer more splash and fanfare? When we find our prayers answered in a way different from what we expected, do we accept that answer, and do we still give thanks?

The one who returned to give thanks was a foreigner, a Samaritan. The person who is different, who is other, has much to teach us. Jesus welcomes the stranger and praises the Samaritan leper for his gratitude.

Whom do we consider foreign to us? Perhaps the person who appeals least to us is the very one God uses to teach us love. If we insist on our cultural expectations, we may miss a far deeper gift. We need to take the risk and move beyond our comfort zone, embracing our neighbor.

Jesus expresses the very human desire to have one’s gifts acknowledged with gratitude. As those who are richly blessed, we may take God’s gifts for granted. The foreigner returns to thank Jesus for his cure. He did not take this gift for granted. We should join him in thanking God, who continually enriches us with a diversity of gifts and asks simply that we acknowledge our dependence on God and others.

God is a God of ordinary things, who calls us to reverence our daily lives and find God present where we least expect.

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