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Homily for twenty-eighth Sunday C

07 Oct 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

lepers healedIn our liturgy today, we are reminded of the danger of ingratitude and the power of thanksgiving. It is written in Psalm 100:4, enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name.

The power of thanksgiving with faith breaks the power of the enemies and releases us for salvation. When we praise God in all circumstances, the devil loses major battles in our lives, and we learn to live above the power of physical and spiritual turbulences. That was what happened to Naaman in our first reading this morning. Naaman was a commander in the Syrian army, a pagan who offered sacrifices to idols. But the living God of Israel healed him of his leprosy through the prophet Elisha. Elisha directed him to immerse himself seven times in the River Jordan; though Naaman hesitated, he eventually and reluctantly carried out the prophet’s instruction and was healed. His body was healed, but his spirit was still not delivered because he worshiped idols, and so was always connected to them through those actions. That is what happens in the lives of some Christians, they get connected to the devil through specific acts of theirs, they get entangled in satanic nets in their search for a miracle, but Naaman was delivered through the power of thanksgiving.

When Naaman immersed himself in the river Jordan seven times as directed by prophet Elisha and discovered that he had been healed, he returned to the prophet Elisha to give thanks. The prophet refused the material goods Naaman brought for thanksgiving, certainly not in denial of the necessities of thanksgiving but to let Naaman know that God’s healing power cannot be bought. But because he came for thanksgiving, he had the opportunity to renounce the idols he had worshiped and offered sacrifices to. He begged the prophet to let him go with some soil from the holy land because he was no longer going to worship or offer gifts to any idol or god except to the God of Israel. He had the opportunity to renounce the devil because he came before the prophet for thanksgiving.

The same storyline we find in our gospel passage this morning. On his way to Jerusalem and along the border between Samaria and Galilee, Jesus was met by ten lepers. They stood some way off and cried to Jesus for help, Jesus! Master! Take pity on us. Jesus ordered them to show themselves to the priest, but they were healed on their way. Only one of them returned to give thanks, a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, Was not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner. And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go your way. Your faith has saved you.

Now, let us look at this encounter again in the light of what happened to Naaman in our first reading. The lepers encountered Jesus, and their leprosy was healed just as that of Naaman was healed. Before Naaman returned to give thanks, his leprosy was healed, but his soul was not saved because he had not renounced the devil. So also, the ten lepers were healed but not saved. But to the only one that came back to give thanks, Jesus said, “Stand up and go your way. Your faith has saved you.” Wonderful! Have you ever wondered what happened to the other nine? Even Jesus asked, where are they? Ten were healed, but only one was told that he was saved because of thanksgiving. Jesus said to him, get up and go your way, go home, you no longer need to show yourself to the priest; you are saved.

ThanksgivingBrethren, there is power in thanksgiving. When we learn to live a life of thanksgiving, praise God in good and bad times, we are saved. We may not be physically healed, but we are saved. That is why St. Paul says in his first letter to Thessalonians 5: 18, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Jesus Christ is the healer; there is no sickness. He cannot heal; there is no problem he cannot solve. That is the reason we must cry to him for help like the ten lepers. Trust him at all times, in good and in bad times, in sickness and in health. He is the Lord; he alone can heal the body and save the soul.

As we come into his presence this morning, let our hearts be full of thanksgiving. If you came here this morning sad, full of anger, not happy, this is an opportunity for you to renounce those spirits and embrace the Lord with a heart full of praise and thanksgiving.

May the Lord bless his word in our hearts.