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DATE: October 9, 2016 (28th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
THEME: Mission of Mercy and the Needy and Poor
READINGS: 2 Kgs 5:14-17 / Ps 98:1.2-3.3-4 / 2 Tim 2:8-13/ Lk 17:11-19
REFLECTION BY: Anthony Dameg

Today’s Gospel shows Jesus’ concern for the outcasts of society, the lepers whom nobody notices. People in Jesus’ time would not dare to interact with them because of their infectious sickness; they were unclean. Jesus, the compassionate and merciful Savior, healed the ten lepers. From a life of seclusion and misery, he gave them a life of freedom. He valued them and gave them back the dignity they had lost because of their infirmity. In the light of the Gospel, we reflect on how in our modern age and time, many are “lepers” in our society, those that are not given much attention, those that are rejected or are inferior in the sight of the majority.
Who are the poor in our midst today? They are not only those who do not have the basic daily necessities needed to survive, but they could also be the millions of refugees, the indigenous people who are taken advantage of, the uneducated, the victims of injustices, those who are affected by famine and drought, and those who are deprived of their religious freedom and human rights.
The Sacred Scripture gives us a glimpse on how Yahweh in the Old Testament loved them and how Jesus in the New Testament concretely showed His concern for them. Jesus dined with them, preached to them, broke bread with them, and healed them. They heard Jesus’ words and witnessed his deeds. Jesus himself was poor. He was born poor, lived poor and died poor: “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).
Pope Francis’ World Mission Day Message for 2016 tells us: “From the beginning the Father has lovingly turned towards the most vulnerable, because His greatness and power are revealed precisely in His capacity to identify with the young, the marginalized and the oppressed (cf. Deut 4:31; Ps 86:15, 103:8, 111:4). He is a kind, caring and faithful God who is close to those in need, especially the poor.” Such is the love of God for those who are deemed irrelevant by the world because they are powerless; they hold on to their faith in God whom they deeply believe will provide them with their needs in order to live.
There are so many poor people in our land; the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines acknowledges that “there are a great number of our people who wallow in abject poverty and misery” (312). Keeping this in mind, we as members of the mystical body of Christ are challenged to perform concrete actions to alleviate the condition of the poor; we seek to give them back their dignity and in doing so we are following Jesus who ministered and cared for them. We cannot just close our eyes and hearts to their plight; we are called to follow the footsteps of Jesus in becoming healers of this modern leprosy called poverty. For sure, we cannot solve everything, but small steps of helping others will surely be a great start. May we become the eyes, the hands, the heart, and the feet of Jesus in our world today!

Brother Anthony Dameg is the Formation Coordinator of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Philippines.


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