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Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

No one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.

The Word This Week

There are many messages in today’s Gospel: the power of God to heal, the compassion of Jesus for those in need, the fact that a despised foreigner (the Samaritan) is the only one who recognises what has been done, the role of faith and the importance of thanking God for gifts received. But because this Gospel is twinned with part of the story of Naaman the leper, the idea that the Church brings out most clearly is that of thanksgiving, or acknowledging what has been given to us. From an early age we are taught to say “Thank You” – to recognise that someone has gone out of their way to give us something or do something for us. Our thanks strengthens the relationship that binds us together, and it is the same with God. As we recognise the good things that come from God, so our faith is deepened and the bond of the Covenant in Christ Jesus is strengthened.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: 2 Kings 5:14-17

Naaman was a reluctant recipient of a miraculous cure: he had been asked to do something almost banal – to bathe in the River Jordan. He was expecting something dramatic, and was a little put out. Nevertheless, when he is cured he returns to Elisha in order to express his gratitude. If you dig out the Bible and have a look at 2 Kings 5 you will see that there is a lot more to this story: this section has been chosen in order to emphasise the gratitude of Naaman, so as reader you should do you best to stress this part of the story too. Give the background, stressing that Elisha gave the instructions and that Naaman was indeed healed of leprosy. Then relate the encounter between Elisha and Naaman with your mind on the strength of Naaman’s desire to say “thank you”.


Second Reading: 2 Timothy 2:8-13

Paul’s letters to Timothy are all about encouragement – giving the young bishop advice and reminders to help him in his ministry. This is very clear in today’s passage, which seems to spring out of a question: “How can I carry on?” This will certainly be a question many people in your congregation have asked. Your role is to offer them Saint Paul’s words to encourage them to “hold firm”. Paul is in prison when he writes this, which gives an added poignancy to the words. Try to bear this in mind before you come to this reading. Keep your tone positive and encouraging: we often talk about the long sentences in Saint Paul’s letters, but here you find short phrases which should present no problems – nevertheless, read carefully and, as always, take your time. The last paragraph, the “…saying you can rely on,” is probably a quotation of a hymn or prayer that the Church would have been familiar with. Try to notice the shift from prose into poetry!


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