Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I 2 Kings 5:14-17
Reading II 2nd Timothy 2:8-13
Gospel Luke 17:11-19
Let’s think of a glass filled with water, iced tea, or some other liquid? In your relationship with God, is that glass filled, is it half empty, or is it empty? In the readings today we are reminded about the healing power of God. When the ten people came to Jesus, he didn’t ask them if they were Catholics or Methodists, black or white, or female. And the ten who asked to be healed were not the ones in his closest circle. But they had heard something about him and knew something about him — so they just came and asked, “Would you heal us?”
“Would you heal us” was a prayer and Jesus answered their prayer. Then nine of the ten took off. “That wonderful man healed us!” But one of them understood the prayer and came back and said, “Thank you.” Then Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?”
That man who came back, his glass was full. For the other nine, their glass was either half empty, or empty. They did not understand what had happened.
So you and I delve into this whole mystery of our lives and prayer. How often do all of us forget to pray? It is a very sobering thought. How often do all of us forget to come to church? How often do we forget to return thanks to God? The last words of the Second Reading were, “God can never forget us.” He is always God and all he wants to do is constantly have our glass completely full. But he gives us a free will and sometimes we like to be God and we pray when we are in a time of need, especially when something is difficult, and we turn right to God. “God, I need this and I need it right now.” And God says, “Well, you are going to have to get that glass to come up and be full. Because I can do anything for you and you won’t see the difference. I want to know if I am your God or not, and if I am your God and I give you absolutely everything, then why are you like one of the nine who forgot to give thanks?”
That’s a sobering message, not only for us here but a sobering message for the entire world. Things are going on around us and then we have to ask, “Am I a part of it, or not a part of it?” If my glass is full then the only thing I can see in my life is that God is loving me. Do I deserve it? Maybe not. But he is loving me. But I don’t know how much he loves me unless I am faithful to him and I know how to pray. Praying is not me saying a Hail Mary every hour on the hour. Prayer just means, “God, you know me better than I know myself, so maybe what I am praying for I really shouldn’t have. So I am just asking you to bless me in the way I need to be blessed.”
That’s faith. But you and I want so much to be in charge of ourselves, of the world, of everything. And God says, “It’s my world.”
We witnessed in the last few days Hurricane Matthew and it has done a ravaging score in so many places. In Haiti, where our Sister Parish is located, the count they are giving is that 800 people have died on that island. But there are thousands still living. Some will have lost their homes, but many still have their homes. In the United States they sent out a warning and what happened along the coast — almost everybody locked up their homes, got in their cars, took what they had and went on freeways and avoided the storm. If you were in Haiti all you would have to say is, “All I have is this tin shack and if it goes I will put something else together.” But God is saying to people in Haiti and the United States, “Are you grateful? I’m not mad at you. That’s not why I sent the hurricane.” But maybe the hurricane has a lot of meaning for the rest of us. That’s what God is saying, “I want to wake you up. You simply do not understand the things that I do.”
This week we have buried Rita Niemann who was in her upper eighties, and on Tuesday we are going to bury a young mother at the age of forty. Figure that out, will you! And when you get the answer call me and let me know. The day when we come into this world, it was our day to come into this world. And the day we leave this world it is the day God chooses us to leave this world. God says, “All I ask is that you know when I created you I gave you everything so that I could draw you to me, and whenever I am ready — I will bring you to me. And when you see me face to face — your glass is going to be overflowing.”
There won’t be anything greater to see in your life or my life. So this morning we just have to sit here and say, “Well, Lord, I’m here. I appreciate all that you give me and my greatest sin is, perhaps, that I go through life and I seldom say, ‘Thank you.’ I just keep asking for one thing after the other. But I never say, ‘Thank you.’ ”
When someone says thank you to you, how does that change your life?
A very simple gesture happened to me the other day. A man came up to me and spoke to me and I did not recognize him at all. He said, “You married a friend of mine and I was in the wedding party. And I remembered you.”
I thought, “Wow, I have done so many weddings, why did this man remember me?” And I said, “Thank you.” No big deal. If you want to be recognized, if you want to know that God lives in you, when you do something that you least expect is touching someone else, and they come to you and say “thank you,” you know your glass is full. But if you think they should come and say “thank you” to you, your glass is empty.
So I just ask all of us: Are our glasses full, or are some of our glasses half full, or empty?
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 Disc C 005)