From Our Pastor: 28th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Everyone uses the word parish and parishioner, but what do they mean. You are a pariah! You are an outcast! The word parish and parishioner are derived from the Greek word, paroikos, which means sojourner, foreigner, outcast, and pariah. It is used in the Acts of the Apostles where St. Stephen speaks about the history of the Jewish people, explaining how they were “aliens in a land not their own.” In this way a parishioner is truly a “sojourner” a pilgrim journeying towards their heavenly homeland. We are not made for this world. We are foreigners here as we were made for the world to come! This is not our homeland! Our citizenship is in heaven! The reason I write about this reality of what parish, parishioner, and pariah mean is because of the readings.
In our first reading, Naaman the Syrian, is told to plunge into the Jordan to heal his leprosy. The gospel is an answer to this reading as well. Here the God of Israel is revealing Himself to this foreigner, a Syrian not an Israelite, and healing this outsider/pariah. Naaman’s response is to want to gift Elisha for the healing, but Elisha reminds him the healing is from the Lord. So Naaman asks for the loads of earth so that he too may worship and offer sacrifice to the one true God for worship of the Lord God of Israel is associated with the soil of the Holy Land, where He is present.
In the Gospel, ten lepers cry out to Jesus, have pity on us! Jesus tells them to go show yourselves to the priests, so that their declaration of leprosy can be taken away and they can return to the society and right worship of God. As a leper they were excluded from society completely and were unclean to participate in right worship. The Samaritan, the outsider/pariah, is the only one to return to Jesus, praising God and thanking Him. There is a great bit of detail here. It is not just about gratitude for the healing, which is a good a noble thing to have gratitude to God for what He does. The greater reality here is that Jesus said go and present yourself to the priest, so they can be allowed to rejoin society and right worship of God. This outcast, this pariah, this Samaritan is the only one to come to the true priest, Jesus Christ, not to join the society of this world, but to join the society of the world to come. This pariah isn’t worried about returning to the right worship of God as he was accustomed but coming back to true right worship of the true presence of God in the world, Jesus Christ. He is the only one who realizes the divinity of Christ and comes to worship at His feet. The word “Give Thanks” is a term clearly pointing to the Eucharist. The word Eucharist means to give thanks. This man falls to His knees in the real presence of Christ, just as we should fall to our knees in right worship of Christ truly present in the Eucharist. AND rightfully prepare to receive him...CLEANSED and made new.
This means, go to confession, fast before mass (and yes absolutely do not chew gum as it breaks your fast and you chew Christ’s true presence into your gum, absurd!), pray before mass and after receiving him, don’t eat or drink for ten minutes after receiving the Eucharist (except water or medicinal needs), and don’t run out immediately after receiving Him! WAKE UP like this Samaritan to WHO it is you receive and what an immense privilege that it is to receive the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. KNOW, like the Samaritan, who it is you are worshipping and receiving and “giving thanks” to. Realize you are pariah, an outcast, a foreigner, a sojourner, etc. on a pilgrimage to our Homeland. You were not made for here, but for the world to come! Heed his words, stand up and go; your faith (in the real presence of Christ) has saved you. Saved you for eternal life!
-Rev. Steven Arisman