“The LORD has revealed to the nations His saving power!” (Psm 89:2b) This refrain from today’s Responsorial Psalm is the theme of our Mass readings. Because “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God,” we are all commanded to sing joyfully to God and praise him with daily, deep gratitude.
Naaman, the successful commander of Syria’s army, was a mighty man of valor, a proud man, who was also a desperate leper. His wife’s Israelite slave girl told her mistress that the Jewish prophet Elisha could heal her master. Expecting Elisha to wave his hand and do an incantation over him, he was furious when told to go and dip seven times in the dirty Jordan river. But when he did as Elisha had instructed, his leprosy was cured. Naaman had a change of heart, which took him back to the prophet, to gratefully offer thanks and gifts and ask for his blessing in worshiping only the God of Israel.
Jesus’ healing ministry embraced lepers, including the one Samaritan and nine Jews in today’s gospel. In faith, the ten went to be examined by the priests when Jesus commanded them, but only the Samaritan, like Naaman the Syrian, returned in gratitude to glorify God. He fell at Jesus’ feet to thank him for having had mercy, even upon a foreigner. Jesus praised him for his gratitude and sent him on his way saying: “your faith has saved you.”
Saving Power through the Sacraments
Paul tells Timothy in today’s second reading: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David!” This is the heart of the gospel! Truly in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, “the LORD has revealed to the nations his saving power.” It is in the sacrament of baptism that we die to our sins and rise to new life as Christians. The cleansing of Naaman the Syrian leper foreshadowed what happens with the sacraments of Baptism because of the Passion of Jesus Christ, through which all graces flow to those who believe and participate.
At the beginning of each Mass, we ask God to have mercy on us and forgive us our sins. We recite the Confiteor, then followed by “Kyrie, eleison, Christe, eleison.” The Gloria follows as we echo the hymn of the angels to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus. We praise, bless, adore, glorify, and give thanks to God. When Catholics go to a priest for reconciliation, we ask for pardon and a resolve to avoid all occasions of sin. Then the priest offers us absolution from our sins, pardon, and peace through the ministry of the Church, in the name of the Holy Trinity. After each confession we should bow in gratefulness to our Lord Jesus Christ for conquering sin and death and allowing us to receive the grace to do that in our own lives. Through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, “the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification” (CCC 1360).
“Father, accept us as a sacrifice of praise, so that we might go through life unburdened by sin, walking the way of salvation and always giving thanks to you” (“Christian Prayer Book,” Office of Readings, 3rd Monday, psalm prayer, p1831).