When we arrive at this particular Sunday, we know that Great Lent will soon follow, and we shall be able to more appropriately address the challenge it makes.
Ten Lepers came to our lord for healing and this request was granted. They went away joyfully and excited, yet only one returned to say thank you.
There was indeed need for great thankfulness. The life of a Leper in those days was challenging and full of misery. Our present “lock-downs” are devastating enough but, at least, are only temporary. For the one suffering from leprosy, it was a lifelong curse, only changed in recent times. The illness is contagious and, hence, to avoid its spread, the sufferer was separated from his/ her family, forbidden to meet with others, unable to attend Synagogue and, often, without means of livelihood. We are reminded of this in our own history when, in earlier times, Lepers could only receive communion at the Leper window without entering the Church (such a window is to be found at St Leodegarius). All were made to live away from the community in special hostels and required to ring a bell to warn every one of their presence when out and about. To be cured of the disorder of leprosy and again be admitted as a full member of community and be reunited with family and friends was an immense blessing and ground on which to be immensely thankful. No doubt all ten in the Gospel story were indeed grateful but only one retuned to Our lord to say, thank you! This story is a challenge for us, as we begin to prepare for Great Lent (still some weeks away), it is good to be aware that we too, like the nine, can, perhaps in exuberance, so easily forget to be thankful for all the blessings and gifts which God has poured upon us. It is so easy to take for granted and to forget. Lent will be a time to remedy this. We enter Great Lent, not to be miserable and chastened harshly but, among other things, to give thanks as we seek refreshment and newness of life.
A clue to thankfulness is indicated in the Epistle for the day, 1Timothy 4: 9-15:
“...be an example... in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.... Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you........Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them... Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
These are words of St Paul to encourage the new priest Timothy but are for all of us, in the priesthood of all believers. We hope that the Leper who returned to Our Lord became one of His disciples and learned to move into a greater fullness of life. Now that he was free of his affliction, he would indeed be able to accept and understand the life changing words given to the Apostle Timothy. Perhaps he was able to become a good witness of what life with Jesus was like, changed from outcast to inner disciple, restored. This is what we hope for ourselves and what Lent is about when we enter into what this season has to offer. Lent gives us a special set aside time to ensure that we do not neglect the gift that is in us. Great Lent leads us into greater thankfulness for what God has poured upon us and into our lives in a time for restoration. Thankfulness is the most important part of prayer; it pleases God and lifts up our own hearts. In our Christian life, our conduct, our outreaching love, the Spirit which governs our life and makes us more fully human, with firm faith and purity, in which we find ourselves. As one Father said, when visited by a group who were disappointed that he had nothing to say to them, replied “If you are not edified by my presence, you will not be edified by my words. The quality of our life is what counts and speaks more than words. Freed of limitation, as were the ten Lepers, so we, freed from whatever has been restricting us, enables us to stand thankfully in Christ and then, our presence in the world around, radiates His love and His saving grace. The society in which we live, so damaged by the Corona virus and the reaction to it, needs us, as committed, dutiful Christians, to proclaim by our witness that the foundations of this Nation are Christian, and only when its peoples return to an awareness and commitment to God the Creator Redeemer, will life be able to be on a sounder footing. Let all, like the tenth Leper, return to Christ with hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving.
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others