15 Nov 2017. Wednesday, Week 32

Saint Albert the Great

1st Reading: Wisdom 6:1-11

God, as Creator of everything, provides for all alike

Listen, O kings, and understand; learn, O judges of the ends of the earth.

Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations. For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High; he will search out your works and inquire into your plans. Because as servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly, or keep the law, or walk according to the purpose of God, he will come upon you terribly and swiftly, because severe judgment falls on those in high places. For the lowliest may be pardoned in mercy, but the mighty will be mightily tested.

For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of anyone, or show deference to greatness; because he himself made both small and great, and he takes thought for all alike. But a strict inquiry is in store for the mighty. To you then, O monarchs, my words are directed, so that you may learn wisdom and not transgress. For they will be made holy who observe holy things in holiness, and those who have been taught them will find a defense. Therefore set your desire on my words; long for them, and you will be instructed.

Gospel: Luke 17:11-19

Out of ten lepers healed, only one returned to give thanks

On his way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”


We lose by not being grateful

Jesus says to a man he has cured, “Your faith has saved you.” We need a basic trust, to recognise our total dependency on God for life and for its good use, and to be able to cooperate with others towards eternal life. Faith helps us appreciate each other, and to give praise to our Maker. To the healed man who threw himself on his knees, Jesus says, “Stand up and go on your way.” The man, free at last from the dreadful disease of leprosy, went off full of joy, no longer forbidden to live near other people, no longer ostracized as unclean. He resumed a full life, blessed with good health and gratitude to God.

Alongside this happy tale the gospel puts a sober commentary on human ingratitude. The question is asked, ‘Were not all ten made whole? Where are the other nine? Was there no one to return and give thanks to God except this foreigner?’ At that time, most Jews scorned and avoided the Samaritans, after a long history of mutual distrust. Some five centuries earlier, Jews had refused to let Samaritans join in rebuilding the temple (Ezra 4). In return the Samaritans built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim and tended to side against the Jews in later wars. Well aware of this antagonism, Jesus was trying to break it down and show that even Samaritans could have true faith.

Did their sudden return to health distract the other nine so that they failed in the normal courtesy of returning to thank him for their cure? It seems that God’s finest gifts, life, strength, the ability to think and to act creatively, can easily make us forget God and also forget to serve our neighbours. The Book of Wisdom warns about the proper use of life and talents. It admonishes us that God made the great as well as the small, and provides for all alike; but a tougher scrutiny awaits people of power and influence.

Graced and grateful

“Who has returned to give thanks to God, except this stranger?” We have all received a great deal as a gift. We don’t always recognize that the ultimate source of graces and gifts is God. That is what distinguished the Samaritan leper from the other nine who were cured. All ten were equally healed of a disease that had left them only half-alive. But only one of them, finding himself cured, turned back praising God at the top of his voice. He threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him for this cure. He thanked Jesus, but he praised God. The Samaritan realised that God was at work in healing him.

Jesus praised this man’s special insight. Notice how he didn’t want thanks for himself, or complain that “nobody has come back to thank me..” but “nobody has come back to give praise to God.. except this foreigner.” That is why he goes on to say, “Your faith has saved you.” This leper had the true vision of faith; he recognized God at work in what had happened to him, in the extraordinary way he had been graced. We are called to that same vision of faith, to recognize and to acknowledge God at work in all the experiences of grace that bless us in the course of our lives.


Saint Albert the Great, bishop and doctor of the Church

Albertus Magnus (c. 1200-1280), was a German Dominican, who lectured in Cologne, Regensburg, Freiburg and Strasbourg; among his students was Thomas Aquinas, whos orthodoxy Albert defended against his critics. In 1260 Pope Alexander IV made him Bishop of Regensburg, but after 3 years Albert returned to his ministry of teaching. Contemporaries such as Roger Bacon applied the term “Magnus” to him during his own lifetime, honouring to his reputation as a scholar and philosopher.

One Comment

  1. Brian Fahy says:

    Ten Lepers

    Disfigurement of flesh
    Leaves these men outside
    Healthy contacts broken
    Keep your distance wide

    We too feel like lepers
    Life has broken down
    All my contacts severed
    Now I’m on my own

    Pity me my daily prayer
    Will you help me Lord?
    Be on your way as if you’re well
    Trust now in my word

    Everyone needs contacts
    Facebook, E-mail, twitter
    Other people validate
    The self with every letter

    Silent monk in chapel
    Sits and quietly stares
    Lets the Lord approach him
    Looks at one who cares

    Ultimate connection
    Jesus each new day
    Walk the road together
    Faith now leads the way

    I am healed believe it
    All the dross is gone
    Let gratitude fill up my heart
    My life can be a song

    Brian Fahy
    15 November 2017

    Finding myself alone in the world in these later years, widowed unexpectedly five years ago, I am tempted and troubled to feel self- pity, and to feel, like the lepers, cut off from the general stream of life. Yet being alone and quiet, I see how desperately sometimes, people cling to human contact in social media, as opposed to daily ‘face to face’ encounter. Technology has made contact of a sort easy, but true meetings are a rarer thing these days. Loneliness is everywhere.

    Pope Francis often speaks about a ‘culture of encounter’, a grace to be able to meet one another properly and gracefully, kindly and mercifully. The best encounter I have these days is when, in the morning I sit still and read the mass readings and then let the Lord speak to me.

    The story of the lepers was the story for today and if I will listen, the Lord is telling me to walk on in my life, believing that I am cured of all that ails me and I will find that I am. I am not to wait until I feel completely better in spirit before I move! Each day calls us to move, to walk on along the road of life. As we do we will find that we are well, even after all that has weighed us down so heavily, and finding myself well it will be time to thank the good Lord for all his kindness to me.

    Brian Fahy

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