Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost
October 9, 2022
By: Pr. Sergio Rodriguez

“…When he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a Loud voice (Lk 17:15).”

Hallelujah! Let us give thanks to the Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with our whole hearts. Amen.

The Samaritan’s faith, as deeply rooted in Gratitude, Gratitude for God’s restoration through Jesus, is the heart of my message today, entitled: “Gratitude: The deeply rooted response of faith.” In particular, I would like for you to consider two key gestures of gratitude embodied by the Samaritan:

First, Recognition. The Samaritan, as soon as began to his that his flesh was transformed, recognized Jesus as the conduit for God’s gifts.

Second, Response. The Samaritan had to rush back and with his entire being responded with a bodily praise. His faith in God has rooted in him God’s restorative neighbor, the kingdom if you will.

Consider last week’s announcement that, “our revival task now…the stewardship task ahead: to translate our rootedness and revival in faith more deliberately into the way we see ourselves and use the time, talent, and treasure we have been given.” This task of translation begins in gratitude. First, in recognition of God as source for all that we briefly possess during our life on earth. And then in a response of praise where we bear witness to what has occurred within us. It is through Gratitude, that not only do we bring forth fruits to feed the world, but we are even more so deeply rooted in God.

The greatest gift off grace Jesus imparted to the Samaritan was that he was rooted; he was seen by author of all mercies. He knew all too well the adage: Misery breed company. His twist would be: Leprosy breeds company. Compared to the other nine lepers, he understood this two-fold: first as a Samaritan, he did not fellowship with Jewish folk. Secondly as a leper, he did not fellowship with his own. Rather, he joined what seemed to be a Massa Damnata of folks ostracized by society; a colony of lepers (2 Kings 7:3). Of course, we must keep in mind that there were Levitical rituals to cleanse and welcome those healed of their Leprosy (Lev 14:2-32). Regardless, they were not to be seen but to be heard, warning others of their presence. Jesus, having touched and healed a man afflicted with leprosy (Lk 5:13), would have none of this. Hearing the lepers, how they shouted as they kept their distance, implore him, “Master, have mercy on us (Lk 17:13b),he saw them. As they went, their faith cured them, rooting them in God who makes all things new (Rev 21:5). Here comes in recognition. The Samaritan, recognized in Jesus this author of the new creation. He recognized that in his body, his time, his talent, and treasure were given to him on account of Jesus.

Recognition. This simple statement that God is the source of all life, healing, and forgiveness is the most challenging aspect of gratitude. To recognize that God is the one who provides, who welcomes, who forms us with various gifts, is to acknowledge first our limitation. We can not ourselves be rooted inward, as if God had nothing to do with our degrees, our wealth, our service. Recognition is first and foremost a gift of grace; of faith that is rooted in that kind of mercy that breeds good company. I can not help but think of these words of Rev. Edwin Pederman when he made it clear during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s that, “we don’t really know much about Leprosy. But we do know of modern day lepers: The homosexuals.” What we do know is of a God who through us, through folks in our AIDS crisis team, through our trans folk, through our lesbian, bisexual and gay folks, through you all, works all things new. Recognition. Consider this, with the hopes that you can recognize how God is transforming lives through you. What is one insight, one truism, or pearl of wisdom, you have gained by simply experiencing life, what would it be? Can you recognize that God has provided you with such a mercy? Can you believe that God has given you such a wisdom that its very existence in your live, moves you to share it with others?

The Samaritan so moved by grace, responds the best way he knows; he celebrates a Mass. His praise of God with a loud voice is a prayer of thanksgiving. As we move our whole bodies in communion, so too does the Samaritan respond in a position of worship; he prostrates himself at Jesus’ feet. Here, Luke, draws our attention to the fact that of the ten, the one leper who returned is a Samaritan. It is as if he is a new Naaman in his prostration. These words of Naaman ring true in our ears: “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant (2 Kgs 5:15b).” Grace is not just a gift that we receive through faith; wrapped in a kind of cellophane packing that we are unable to tear, and to open its contents. Grace is a song that moves through our throats and plunges us deep into ground of all being: God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God for our Cantor, Music Associate, Choir, Section Leaders and all of you who know deep down, how beautiful it is to give God the Glory.

Response. We know well how well our souls are nourished when our song is carried by heartfelt gratitude. To respond to God’s gift means for us to lift every voice, every emotion, every thought, every thing with us to sing. This is our deeply rooted response of faith: To praise God and let this refrain fill both our lives, and the lives of those who yearn to know the source of our joy! So then let us share our insights about how God has transformed us and others, through us. And as we continue to see how God is working through our many and various gifts, may these “Temple Talks” move us to proclaim with a loud voice: Great are the works of the Lord!

May this praise, among us, endure forever! Amen.