The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? The Day Jesus Was Wrong The Promise of the New Name The Two Feet of Love Facing the Hour Looking Backwards Touching the Leper Touching the Leper Misunderstanding God Doing It Poorly God’s Midwife A Name for the Holy Spirit The Coffin So We Do Not Have to Touch Being Better to Each Other Earthquakes and Galilee Lazarus as a Disciple Seeing More Learning from Peter Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/2/14 Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/9/14 Choosing a Master Goodness in Temptation A Pinch of Salt Teaching the Commandments The Freedom of the Baptist Christ’s Broken Body Faith Is More than Looking The Twelve Days of Christmas God’s Timing Resurrection and Transformation The Good That Is Gone Zacchaeus Moments God in the Smallest Things Trust and Community When God’s Commands Do Not Fit The Faith of Honeybees Choosing Hell Following the Dishonest Steward The Ninety-Nine The Freedom to Let Go Beyond Politics The Balance of Humility Not Fearing Fire The Beauty Remains To Welcome as a Samaritan A Moveable Peace Bring On the Women! The Two Sides of Bread Waiting for the Ticket The Groove of the Spirit Jesus Is Not Like Congress A Divine Partnership What Kind of Love Is This? Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? The Mystery of Salvation Being Thankful How Is a Burden Light? The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment I Will Go On Three Wise Choices Will You Also Leave? Show No Partiality Carrying the Cross for Whom? Outside the Lines The Camel and the Needle Ask First for Sight What God Sees Only God The Arc of the Universe Turmoil, Fear, and Dismay The Gift of the Desert A Punch for the Holidays Politics and Religion Jesus Always Understands One Body God’s Love The Call Blessings and Woes Imitating God’s Mercy The Blind Leading the Blind The Devil’s Agenda Looking Closer, Looking Beyond Accepting God’s Love Mob Thinking The Easter Egg Fishing with Uncle Mike Loving Like Jesus God’s in Love with This World

When God’s Commands Do Not Fit

Fr. George Smiga
October 13, 2013
Luke 17:11-19

A number of religious truths are immediately apparent in today’s gospel. This passage tells us that we, like the ten lepers, can approach Jesus for healing. It also insists that, like the Samaritan who was healed, we should always be thankful. But there are other truths in this gospel passage that can be discovered, if we ask the right questions. Here is a question we can ask: Why did nine of the lepers who were cleansed not return to give thanks to Jesus? Were they simply dull or selfish? Why does it seem that they closed their hearts to gratitude?

If we were to ask those nine lepers this question, here is what they might say:  “We werevery grateful that Jesus healed us. That is why we chose to do what he asked of us. Jesus commanded us to go and show ourselves to the priests. When we were cleansed, we decided that is exactly what we should do. We did not return to thank him, because we thought it was more important to obey him.”

Seen from this perspective, it is the nine lepers who follow Jesus’ command, and it is the Samaritan that sets his command aside and returns to give thanks. Jesus, of course, accepts the Samaritan’s decision. In so doing, he reveals a new meaning to this gospel: sometimes the best decision that we can make is one that is different from what God commands.

Now, of course, this truth needs to be embraced carefully. God’s commands are good and holy. The teachings of our Church are beneficial to us and should be respected. And yet, there are times when our lives do not fit into what God commands. In those times, we must choose what it is that we will do. The Catholic tradition, for example, highly respects the gift of marriage. We understand it as a sacrament and believe that the faithful love of husband and wife is a sign of God’s love for us. Yet, it is possible to find oneself in the midst of a marriage that is dead, a marriage without love and cooperation. Even though God asks us to be faithful for a lifetime and we have made a commitment to love another person as long as we live, we sometimes face the reality that that is a commitment we cannot follow. We understand in our faith that Christ asks us to live in a certain way and yet there might be people we love, our children or our friends, who choose to express their sexuality in a way that is contrary to Church teaching. We do not want to condone their decision, but neither do we want to break our relationships with them. Jesus commands us that we are to love our neighbor and forgive our enemies. We are told to turn the other cheek. And yet, there are times when our attempts to love someone only lead to manipulation and abuse, when the person that we forgive hurts us again and again. Even though Jesus commands that we love our neighbor as our self, sometimes we need to break a relationship to save our self. In circumstances such as these and in others, we may discover that our lives do not fit into what God commands us. When we find ourselves in those situations, we need to choose to save as much good as we can and then continue to live.

The Samaritan in today’s gospel is so filled with joy that he sets aside Jesus’ command and returns to give thanks. Jesus accepts his decision. In so doing he makes this story an assurance that he will treat us in the same way. When we find ourselves in circumstances where it is impossible to do what God asks of us, we must make the best decision we can. If we make that decision wisely and selflessly, we can trust that Jesus will understand and accept us. This story even dares to suggest that the compromised decisions that we make might in time give us reason to be thankful.

Change this in Theme Options
Change this in Theme Options