As Jesus 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. Luke 17: 12-16
While working as pastor I entered all the baptisms in the parish register. Over the years I got very familiar with all those names and dates. However, I estimated that only about ten percent of those who were baptised returned to Sunday mass on a regular basis.
The cleansing of the ten lepers is really a baptism scene. Leprosy, like sin, alienates people from one another, themselves and even God since lepers were forbidden to come near any social gathering including synagogue or temple. Sin, like leprosy, results in a deadening of our sensitivity to our whole and true self. Baptism is a sensory, communal and spiritual awakening that tells us God cleanses us of the guilt of sin which we alone cannot achieve. Baptism ends the alienation that separates people from God and each other. Baptism is rebirth as God’s children in a new way through Christ and forms a new community of God’s children.
What do you say to that???
After one leper saw that he was healed turned back praising God with a loud voice and prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The original words of this verse are literally: He eucharisted Jesus. What we see here is the completion of the gift of cleansing baptism by a full voice saying thank you Jesus! The shape of Christian thanksgiving for being cleansed of guilt and alienation is to return every Sunday and join your thanksgiving or eucharist to the great thanksgiving and eucharist of Jesus.
Sadly, we also see in the sole thankful leper coming back to eucharist Jesus our contemporary statistics for cleansed but forgetful Christians.
No wonder that another word for the eucharist is memorial. Not like a memorial stone but a living memory meant to remind us of what we have become in Christ.
This thanksgiving weekend let us realize that praise and thanksgiving is the heart of the Christian vocation and turns all things to good. Let us return to praise God with loud voices and pour our whole selves into communal gratitude at Sunday Eucharist. The more we do so our appreciation will abound in peace, joy and service.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocations Director OMI Lacombe Canada
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at email@example.com to arrange for an appointment.