Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 23

Track 1: May the Voice of His Praise Be Heard

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66:1-11
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

In today’s Gospel reading we have the healing miracle of the ten lepers:

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.

Jesus healed all the lepers, but one of them returned in joy to give thanks. Not only that, but he honored Jesus, recognizing him as the source of his healing:

Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Healing can be an instant miracle, even today, by the name of Jesus, Not all miracles are instantaneous. Through our illnesses, we can often better understand the love and care that God provides us.

The greater healing is being open to worship the Great Physician, the Great I AM. The psalmist wrote:

Come now and see the works of God,

how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

He turned the sea into dry land,
so that they went through the water on foot,
and there we rejoiced in him.

In his might he rules for ever;
his eyes keep watch over the nations;
let no rebel rise up against him.

Bless our God, you peoples;
make the voice of his praise to be heard;

Who holds our souls in life,
and will not allow our feet to slip. (Psalm 66:1-8)a

We have much to be thankful for. Jesus has saved our souls on the cross. The Apostle Paul reminds us:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful–
for he cannot deny himself.

Entering the kingdom of God is, perhaps, the greatest healing. His kingdom is a place of great joy. The Apostle Paul wrote:

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.   (Romans 14:17)

How freely do we worship and thank God for all that he has sone? If we are going through difficult circumstances, are we able to offer God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving? We are blessed when we do and God so loves our praise. The psalmist wrote:

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
    I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.   (Psalm 9:1-2)

 

Track 2: Believing and Trusting

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Psalm 111
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

Most of us probably remember the account of Naaman of the Old Testament. He was the commander of the army of the king of Aram,   He was in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.

Naaman, unfortunately, had leprosy.. A young girl captive from the land of Israel, who served Naaman’s wife said that there was prophet in Samaria who could cure him of his leprosy. Naaman told his king who said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”  (2 Kings 5:5)

Reading from 2 Kings:

Naaman went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.   (2 Kings 5:6-10)

Naaman was not prepared for this response from Elisha. The prophet did not greet him properly, or acknowledge his highly esteemed position he enjoyed in his own country:

Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage.    (2 Kings 5:11-12)

Fortunately, the wisdom of his servants prevailed:

His servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, `Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.   (2 Kings 5:13-14)

Naaman almost lost his healing because he did not understand the greatness of God. God is our healer and not any human who may be used as an intermediary. Moreover. whatever standards which we expect God to accord us is immaterial. God has his own standards that we should meet. Do we tell God that “my rivers are better than yours?”

Proverbs warns:

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but wisdom is with the humble.   (Proverbs 11:2)

When it comes to healing, we leave everything in the hands of God. He is sovereign. We need to listen carefully to him and obey his commandments and directions. The real healing is believing in and trusting God, regardless of our circumstances or expectations.

Jesus purchased our salvation and healing on a cruel cross. Surely we must understand that we also have a cross to bare? The Apostle Paul wrote:

The saying is sure:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful–
for he cannot deny himself.   (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

We must simply believe, obey, and follow our Lord. There will be persecution for free disciples. We will have a cross to bear.But Jesus reminds us:

I have said this to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution, but take courage: I have conquered the world!”   (John 16:33)

Leave a comment

Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s