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Our Lady of Victory / St. Malachy
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Our Lady of Victory
490 Charles Street
Gatineau, Québec
J8L 2K5

Mass:     Sunday   9:00 AM
            Thursday 10:00 AM

St. Malachy
3889 Route 315
Mayo, Québec
J8L 3Z8

Mass: Saturday 7:00 PM





Fr. Albanus’ Reflections on the Sunday Liturgy

The central theme of today’s readings is gratitude – in particular, the expression of gratitude God expects from us. Today’s first reading presents the story of Naaman. Naaman, the Syrian military commander, was an outcast not only because of his leprosy; he was also a non-Israelite. But he returned to thank the Prophet Elisha for the cure of his leprosy, and as a sign of his gratitude. He not only rejoiced in the gift of healing he had received but also recognized the giver and so transferred his allegiance to the God of Israel. So, that shows that the God of Israel heals the outsider and the pagan. St. Paul, in the second reading, advises Timothy to be grateful to God even in his physical sufferings and amid the dangers associated with spreading the Word of God because God will always be faithful to His people.

The Gospel story tells us of a single non-Jewish leper (a “Samaritan heretic”), who returned to thank Jesus for healing him, while the nine Jewish lepers went their way. One may perhaps surmise that under the false impression that healing was their right as God’s chosen people, they hurried off to obtain health certificates from the priests. Luke notably is the only New Testament writer who mentioned Naaman the leper (cf 4:27). Writing to the Gentiles (Luke also was a Gentile); he has particular inclination to present God’s call to all peoples. It is therefore not surprising here that Luke's story tells us that the only one who shows gratitude is a foreigner, the Samaritan. Like Naaman, it is the outsider who shows his faith in God and his gratitude to the Servant of God (Jesus). He comes in praise of God and makes Jesus his new destination.

Jesus feels bewildered and disappointed by the absence of the other nine and so asks, “Were not ten made clean?” The ingratitude of the others makes Jesus to wonder. What makes people that way? Why is saying ‘thank you’ such a problem? Mark Twain says bluntly “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. That is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” It is probable that the nine lepers were appreciative of the healing gesture of Jesus. But we don't know why they never bothered to show their gratitude. It may however be better for us to turn to ourselves and ask why we are often reluctant to say ‘thank you’. As one author says “whatever the reason for our own ingratitude, we know it diminishes us and those who help us. Ingratitude makes the bill for helping people hard to pick up.”

Brothers and sisters, this is coincidently thanksgiving weekend when we are supposed to thank God for his numerous blessings; things we do not earn. We are here today in the Eucharistic celebration. Eucharist comes from the Greek noun eucharistia meaning thanksgiving. We come here every Sunday to thank God in the midst of the community. We do what Naaman and the Samaritan leper did. We should let our thanks find expression in this Eucharistic celebration. Although we receive so much from God, we often take it for granted, without appreciating His gifts. We allow the negatives of our lives to hide from ourselves the blessings we have received -- minor negatives like some health problems, financial worries, conflict with a neighbour or co-worker or spouse. Besides, we are often thankful only when we compare ourselves with less fortunate people. There are of course a lot of them, even among us. Saying thanks to God together with the parish community, sharing our time, talents and material blessings in the parish and sharing the Heavenly Bread of Thanksgiving, the Holy Eucharist, are the simple forms of thanksgiving we can offer every Sunday and in the course of the week in response to God's blessings. Meister Eckhart, the Medieval mystic, says that if the only prayer we say in our lifetime is ‘thank you’ that will suffice.

Finally, we must realize that faith is not a monopoly of the baptized. There are ‘unbaptized Samaritans’, ‘outcasts’ around us whom we casually tag as non-Christians but who by their exemplary lives are more authentic Christians than many of us. We should avoid being over-presumptuous. Virtue is not the prerogative of Christians.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Fr Al


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490 Charles Street • Gatineau • Québec • J8L 2K5
Telephone: (819) 986-3763
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