The first reading and the Gospel had a couple of common themes: the first, healing lepers. In the first reading, Naaman follows Elisha's direction and bathes seven times in the Jordan. Finding that "[h]is flesh became again like the flesh of a little child..." he returned to Elisha, praising God, saying "...I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the Lord." In the Gospel, ten lepers met Christ as he entered a village. Jesus directed the ten to show themselves to the priests, and, as they were on their way, they had been healed. One of them, a Samaritan, returned to Christ; "he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him." After he noted that ten were healed, but only one returned, he turned to the Samaritan and said, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."
The second, as clear as the first, is thanksgiving. While we didn't hear Sunday how Naaman's story turned out, we know how Christ reacted to the Samaritan. Your faith has saved you.
Magnificat, an excellent monthly magazine with the Masses of the month, liturgies, and commentaries, contained a striking synopsis of the readings:
As Christ makes his way to the cross, he accedes to the pleas of ten lepers for pity. The consummation of the Samaritan leper's healing happens when he falls at the feet of Jesus in thanksgiving. Which makes Jesus wonder, "Where are the other nine?" Saint Paul warns "If we deny him, he will deny us." The formerly skeptical Naaman ... resolves to live the rest of his life worshiping no other god but the Lord. For us fervent thanksgiving prevents us from ever denying God; it keeps us strong in the faith that saves us.
There is one other thing about the readings: each of the healed men expressed their gratitude in public, and I found myself accused. I am profoundly grateful for my sobriety, but, over the last year, I have given voice to my thanks only in the comfort of my home or silently in church. I haven't gone to a meeting. I haven't written anything here for 13 months. I'm sure my prayers of thanksgiving are happily received in heaven, and my prayers asking for the Lord to help addicts are answered. But I'm not helping.
So, it's back to meetings, and it's back here to write from time to time - more regularly than once a year.
And, it was fitting and wonderful to pray Psalm 136 during vespers tonight:
O give thanks to the Lord for he is good,for his love endures forever.