Reflection for Sunday – October 9, 2016
Readings: 2 Kings 5: 14 – 17; Psalm 98; 2 Timothy 2: 8 – 13; Luke 17: 11 – 19
Preacher: Sr. Karen Deitz SSJ
I work in an office at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The offices housed in this building are in one wing, while the rest of the house is the home for about 120 of our sisters, sisters from other Congregations and priests. When I leave my office to go somewhere else in the building; to another office, to chapel, to visit a sister or go to the dining room I will inevitably meet up with several others along the way.
If I have an appointment on the other side of the building and am focused on getting there on time and on the pending agenda, I tend to walk quickly and fly by these individuals with hardly a glance. I risk not even seeing the person in front of me. About two weeks ago I was “flying” through the halls on the way somewhere when one of our sisters approached on her way to her room. She stopped and greeted me and said she was grateful she was seeing me as she wanted to tell me something. Running through my mind was my destination; the fact that I was already a few minutes late; the other people walking by us. It took me a moment to really focus on this person and on her need to share something important with me. Her need was great and consequently I never made it to where I was headed. She mattered at that moment. All I had to do was look up and really see.
Today’s readings call us to truly SEE with eyes of faith, compassion and love overflowing. Traditionally we have thought these readings to be about gratitude and the need to give thanks. That message is certainly there, but I believe we cannot be truly grateful until we notice the active presence of God. The first reading from the Second Book of Kings has us journey with Namaan and Elisha in seeking healing for Namaan’s leprosy. Namaan almost returns home before experiencing God’s healing power because he failed to see the presence of God in the words of Elisha. It wasn’t until he let go of his own expectations of how this healing would occur that the work of Elisha could bear fruit. Upon opening the eyes of his body, mind and spirit Namaan was healed physically while at the same time overcome by a sense of gratitude and of God’s love for him.
The Gospel story from Luke is the account of the healing of ten lepers and how only one of them returns to Jesus to express his thanks. Similarly to Namaan, I think this one individual was the one in the crowd who actually recognized the power of Jesus and the gift of his being healed. This one had enough space inside his heart to receive the gift for what it was. This person received not only a physical healing but also a reconciliation of his spirit to the Spirit of God; allowing God’s love to penetrate deep into his marrow.
How is our vision at this time on our journey? Do we have the psychic and spiritual space inside of us to receive all that God has to offer us? Or do we find ourselves cluttered with family, community, work and world concerns? Is the noise of the world around us so loud as to overwhelm the voice of God? Are we too consumed with our own needs and fears to see and experience the activity of God?
As we continue in this Year of Mercy and celebrate October as Respect Life Month, it seems to me that this message of seeing and being attentive and moving to gratitude fits just right. As Christians called to live the Gospel in our daily lives, cultivating an attitude and way of being that is open, reflective and receptive will make extending a merciful hand to another and reverencing all life a natural consequence. As we consciously empty out space inside us; clearing the clutter and noise, we make room for God to fill us with love, compassion and healing energy. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear we will be like Namaan and the 10th leper. Living with grateful hearts will follow.