Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Homily - Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost - August 23, 2015

Gal. 3:16-22; Lk. 17:11-19

St. Paul is very strong on what he says today in the Epistle, that salvation comes from the promise to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ.  In another place, St. Paul says that, by the promise, Abraham saw Christ from afar.  The reasons he says this is because in his missionary work among the gentiles, there were the Judaizers, those Israelites who insisted that the new gentile converts observe the law of Moses, promulgated, as St Paul says, 430 years later.  St. Paul says the law cannot save.  As St. Augustine said, it can point out sin, but it cannot take away sin.  It is Christ, the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, who heals, forgives, and brings us salvation.

This is beautifully illustrated, then, in this portrait which we have in the Gospel of Jesus healing the lepers.  The law has judged them as afflicted and rejected.  Lepers in our Lord’s day lived in terrible isolation.  People avoided them.  They had to wear a bell around their necks so that before people would see them, they would hear them, and give them a wide girth.  And so the Gospel says, they called to the Lord from afar off.  Our Lord heals them, something the law could not do.  And he wants their terrible isolation to end, so He tells them to go to the priests, so their healing could be verified, and they could be returned to the community.  Our Lord, the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, does something the law could not do.

It takes on new meaning when we realize that, in the Scriptures, leprosy is a metaphor for sin.  People thought that leprosy was caused by sin.  And so for our Lord to heal the lepers means that He can forgive sin.  Sin afflicts us, it separates is from God and others.  It isolates us.  And the Lord does something the law cannot do.  He forgives us, He ends our separation.  He ends our isolation.

That would be enough for us to have a great sense of fulfillment about this Gospel.  But there is more.  There is this matter of the one who returns to give thanks.  On a level of nature, gratitude unites, it brings us into contact with the giver.  When we receive a gift, it is a good thing, but the gift is given because of the thought and care of the giver.  When we give thanks, go to the giver, and our gratitude cements the relation with the giver.  St. Luke, who was the assistant to St. Paul remembers that it was the Samaritan, the outsider, who returned to give thanks, for the Judaizers.  The Samaritan gets it.  The Israelites need to get it.

But the word for gratitude in the Gospel is euchariston, a Greek word, which is the one we use for the Holy Mass, the Eucharist.  The Mass is the act of thanksgiving par excellence.  God gives us the Sacrifice of His Son.  For this, and for all God has given us, we return to Him with thanks, through the Mass, the unbloody Sacrifice of Christ, the perfect and acceptable offering to God for the sins of all the world. And, receiving this offering, He is not outdone in goodness, but gives us the Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.  Our gratitude, through the Mass, brings us into contact with the Giver, and cements our relationship with Him, in this great exchange of gifts.

We discover ourselves in the Gospel.  For this, and for all He has given us, we return now, to give thanks to God.