Sunday, October 10, 2010



October 11 and it is Thanksgiving Day this side of the earth. Why do we need to thank anyone at all? Is that part of protocol? In this sermon, Rev. Fr. Francisco R. Albano of the Diocese of Ilagan in the the Northern Philippine province of Isabela, postulates that to be grateful is to be human. Thanksgiving is what makes humans whole in a world that still recognizes God who is also in the "Other".


11. On the way to Jerusalem Jesus {Gk [he]} was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee.
12. As he entered a village, ten lepers {The terms [leper] and [leprosy] can refer to several diseases} approached him. Keeping their distance,
13. they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
14. When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean.
15. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.
16. He prostrated himself at Jesus' {Gk [his]} feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.
17. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?
18. Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"
19. Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."

We pray: We give You thanks, O Lord, for all the benefits Your have given us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” Indeed, it is right and just to do so, even if God does not need our thanks; does not demand our thanks. The justice of God, spiritual gurus remind us, is pure ocean-deep, sky-high, space-wide, history-long, eternal, and infinite generosity. Why? Simply because he is God. His is the way of unselfish love. Still, we must give him thanks for his gifts whatever. For it is good, right, and correct for human persons to do so.

Can we, created unto his image, imitate God in his generosity, approximate him somehow in his love? Can we be economically, politically, culturally, spiritually kind, gifting, caring without any thought of being reciprocated? Without calling those who forget to say “thank you” ungrateful, ingrato, bastos (impolite), walang utang na loob (shamelessly dismissive of debt of gratitude)? Is love and service for us a matter of commutative or contractual justice? Or of distributive justice based on merits?

Do this in memory of me, Jesus proclaimed, he who imitated to the letter his Father’s love. All his good deeds, and especially the Eucharist, contain this message. Therefore, in Jesus’ name, the in the power of the Holy Spirit, in faith, one can strive to love and serve in the manner of Jesus. A new commandment I give to; love one another as I love you. Even if one is not sociologically loved in return; even if no thank you card is received, no beso sets his/her cheeks aglow, it’s okay. What kind of sociological care and justice world issue from this stand?

The philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) opines a simply human basis of unreciprocated love and concern. The ethics of responsibility must be in command of me. I am/must be responsible for the Other. All must be responsible for the Other without any expectation of any reward, any “thank you.” Dostoyevsky puts it this way: “We are all responsible for all for all men before all, and I more than all the others.” And this Other is a concrete Face, undefined, unthematized by concepts, class ideologies, religious dogmas, visions of future and final causes, or by whatever invented bias. All self-interest and over-determinations are bracketed. I respect the Other’s freedom to be.

How close is Levinasian attitude or paninindigan (stand) to that of God and his Son? What kind of sociological care and justice would issue from this stand? Should parents demand that their children repay them for bringing them into the world and rearing them before the letting-go? Certainly, the children must care for their parents in various ways and according to their abilities, but not basically for any reason other than because it is right thing to do so. What if society does away with tit-for-tat love and favor-for-favor transactions, eye-for-an-eye-justice? Can capitalist globalization continue to be?

Does this mean that the Other –neighbor, if you will – I-Other to another I, need not give thanks to God or to caring people, or to be a responsible I? NO! It is good, right, and correct that he/she do so, simply because he/she is a human person. Gratitude, like generosity, is the proper way of a human person.

This is why 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?" He did not call them ingrates; he just asked three questions. Perhaps the nine lepers rushed to the priests to get their certificates, their clearance that they were clean and needed not to be ostracized any longer. Perhaps the priests reminded them to give thanks to God. But they forgot to give thanks to Jesus the healer. They forgot they were human persons who had to say “thank you” even if this was not demanded or expected by the healer. But the Samaritan remembered the justice of human persons, the justice of care and thanksgiving.

Today, this Samaritan made clean helps us to remember that each of us is Other to God, to Jesus, to I’s in our time, in our time, our place, now. The Other that says “thank you” because it simply right to do so. In thanksgiving, in justice/righteousness are we made whole and holy before God and his people. #

Rev. Fr. Francisco R. Albano
Diocese of Ilagan

No comments:

Post a Comment