Homilies & Reflections

One thing I ask of the Lord. This I long to dwell in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life.






*28th Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year (Cycle C)* 

*9th October 2022* 


*By Fr. Emeka Okite* 


1. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful. It is the recognition that one has received something through the mediation of, or by the help of, another. There is more about being grateful than saying “Thank you”. Gratitude is not just a one moment thing in response to the thing received. Gratitude should be an attitude, a way of being. The Roman poet and philosopher Cicero said: *“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”* In a religious sense, gratitude leads one to realize that God is behind all that he is. There are two basic ideas within the concept of gratitude. The first is appreciation: you recognize that something is valuable to you (not necessarily in monetary terms). The second is gratuitousness: you realize that that valuable thing is given to you freely, gratis, and undeservedly. 


2. Contrasting the feeling of indebtedness that goes with gratitude is the arrogance that makes one think that one is the sole author of one’s own progress and achievements. Thus, ingratitude is not just the failure to express one’s thankfulness, but the *refusal to acknowledge that someone else has impacted to your life*, even when you did not necessarily deserve it. Ingratitude is an indirect declaration either that what you have received is of no value, or that it was yours by merit. 

The readings of this Sunday bring to focus the question of gratitude, and its implications in our relationship with God and our fellow human beings. 


3. In the 1st Reading (2 Kgs 5:14-17), we hear of the Syrian army general Naaman. The introduction to the story of Naaman in 2 Kgs 5:1 is structured in such a way as to draw attention to the great lack or need in his life. This man was a great man, well respected by the king, and highly regarded by all, *“BUT he became a leper.”* This man despite his greatness and achievements suddenly became a _persona non grata_. To understand the problem here, just note that in antiquity leprosy was considered a sign of great sin and the anger of the gods, and always led to ostracization from the community (Cf Lev 13-14). Thus, leprosy was the dent on Naaman’s near perfect credentials, and once we understand this, then we can appreciate the value of healing for him. A healing will mean both the forgiveness of his sins and the restoration to life of honour within the community.


4. Hearing of Elisha the prophet, Naaman went to him hoping for a healing. However, when the prophet told him via an intermediary to go and do a simple thing – wash himself in the River Jordan, he was disappointed and annoyed. Surely, he had not come all the way from Syria for such a simple and ordinary ritual; and moreover, there are better rivers in his homeland. But upon advice, he acquiesced and did as he was told, and was cured. This is where our reading begins. Naaman realizes that something that was of great value to him – indeed what he needed most, his health – has just been granted him. The dent in his life was gone, and without any merit on his part. He came back to the prophet with a “thank-you gift”, which Elisha refused, seeing himself only as a vessel God’s of goodness. Naaman realized that he was forever indebted and that the only right response was a life of dedication to the God from whom such goodness comes: *“I will no longer offer holocausts or sacrifice to any other god except the Lord.”* He converts to the worship of Yahweh, the God of Israel. He has been more than healed. He has been saved. The story of Naaman is the story of gratitude that leads to salvation. 


5. Similarly, the story of the anonymous Samaritan leper in the Gospel (Lk 17:11-19) is not only about healing, but about conversion and salvation. The evangelist Luke conveys this through a subtle but very refined play on words. There were ten lepers, who upon their plea for mercy, were sent by Jesus to present themselves to the priests. The exigency of this was because it belonged to the priests to declare a person healed of leprosy and issue a testimonial to that effect and a readmission to the community. On their way, _*they were cleansed*_, all of them. 


6. But while nine continued their way, eager to receive their testimonial of healing and readmission to the community, one of them, a Samaritan, upon noticing his healing unhesitatingly turned back to Jesus to give thanks. He realized both the value of what has been done to him, and his indebtedness to Jesus and God. Jesus is disappointed that of all the ten only the foreigner comes back to express thanks. What Jesus notes here is something we are all too familiar with. You do a favour to family and outsiders, and while the family members take the favour for granted, almost seeing it as a right, it is the outsiders who often remember to be thankful. Jesus’ declaration to the healed Samaritan leper is far-reaching: “Get up and go; your faith _*has saved*_ you” (Lk 17:19). All were cleansed, but only one was saved. 


7. The Samaritan was saved because of his faith, his pure praise and thanks. His return could be called a conversion, for he did not just return to a healer, but to Christ the Saviour. Luke describes with great attention the gestures of this man, in such a way that he is presented as a great believer: *“glorifying God in a loud voice, he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.”* The story of this Samaritan, like that of Naaman, ends in salvation brought about through his spirit of thanksgiving. 


8. As Christians are plagued by the leprosy of sin. But we have been cleansed and made whole in the sacrament of baptism. Jesus regularly offers us the gift of salvation wrought in his blood. And though we disappoint him and remain unfaithful, he is always faithful, for he cannot deny himself (2 Tim 2:13, 2nd Reading). 


9. Our response to Christ is thanksgiving and love. The Eucharist is the height of the Church’s thanksgiving, and our participation therein helps us to cultivate a life of gratitude. This spirit of gratitude when translated into our daily life can transform our human relationships. For our life is nothing but indebtedness, since a lot of what we are and have derive from the grace of God and the contribution of others. When therefore, in gratitude, we realise our indebtedness to each other, then we begin to appreciate how much we need one another, and how each and every human being is important. 


God bless you. Have a great Sunday and a pleasant week. 


*Fr. Emeka Okite* 


9th October 2022, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time C


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Date: 2022-09-08 - 2022-09-10

The Catholic Diocese of Umuahia wishes to invite everyone to join in celebrating "THE NATIVITY OF OUR BLESSED VIRGIN MARY"   From Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th of September 2022.   Venue: Mater Dei Cathedral at Marian shrine.   Time: 4:30pm on Thursday and Friday.   Saturday (Grand finale) - 9:00am

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logoThe Diocese of Umuahia was erected on June 23, 1958 with Most Rev. Anthony Gogo Nwaedo C.S.Sp. as its first Bishop and Most Rev Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji as the second Bishop. The diocese was carved out from the then Diocese of Owerri. Since its inception, two other dioceses: Okigwe (1981) and Aba (1990) have been excised from it. Its present area of about 2,460.40km2 spans six Local Government Areas: Umuahia North, Umuahia South, Ikwuano, Bende, Ohafia and Arochukwu.

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