“I ask you to close your eyes and think back to one important moment in your lives when you need to be thankful to God for giving you what you asked. And when you have done so give thanks to God” These were the final words from Fr Martin Arlando’s homily on the Feast Day of St Faustina. The mass was celebrated on the evening of the 1st October.
Fr Martin began his homily by relating a story of a kind person who had helped a poor woman selling bananas by just giving her RM5 each day without accepting any bananas in return. The woman just took the money without any word of thanks. After three months when the same person came around the woman told him that the price of bananas had gone up to RM7 and that he need increase his gift. The man promptly gave her RM7 and never returned. Ingratitude is one of the most dangerous plague affecting us everywhere everyday. We often fret for many things we need in our lives and when we get it we accept it and conveniently think no more of who gave it to us. We forget the two simple words “Thank You”.
In explaining the gospel reading of Luke 17:11-19 regarding the healing of the ten lepers by Jesus when on his way to Jerusalem, Fr Martin touched on the nature and true meaning of gratitude. Leprosy was considered by the Jewish community to be a result of sin. Lepers were outcasts living together with other lepers in a community of those similarly afflicted and depended on alms to live. It was the same as being a Gentile in the Jewish community thus the Samaritan leper was accepted among the Jewish lepers. They would have to show themselves to a priest to certify that they were cured. Therefore, it was out of faith that the ten lepers cried to Jesus to cure them. Faith is a wonderful virtue but without love, faith is meaningless. Only one of the lepers returned to show his gratitude to Jesus and it was a Samaritan. Returning to give thanks cannot happen if we do not remember what has been done for us. St Paul has reminded us to remember with a grateful heart. In life, many people are not appreciative of the things that have been done for them. This is often true even with our own family and relatives. Often people think that these gifts are their given rights. Ingratitude is often worse than leprosy. Only the Samaritan was saved because he had a change of heart to show his appreciation for what God had done for him.
In ending the homily, Fr Martin then went on to relate a story of man who went to heaven and saw that there was a place filled with rooms where petitions to God were being processed and handed over to be granted by God. Some petitions were given straight approval, others were rejected and some others a “wait and see, all in my good time”. The angels there were so busy sorting, categorizing and dispatching them. However, as he passed on, he saw a dark room with just one angel in it dozing off. On inquiring, he was told this is the room that they sorted all the Thank you notes from those who were granted their petitions. This is often the case where God is left alone and only sort after when we are in need of something but forgotten promptly after we receive what we ask. Fr reminded the congregation not to let the gospel of that day fall on deaf ears. We need to be thankful to God and the best way to show our gratefulness is to listen and to obey the Word of God. The Holy Father, Pope Francis has continued to ask us to put our trust in God. So did St Faustina where she has repeatedly said in her diary the words, Jesus, I Trust in You.
At the end of mass, Fr Martin accompanied on a procession of the statue of St Faustina carried in a bed of roses. During this time the Divine Mercy Chaplet was recited and at various stations flower girls showered petals in its path. After the procession, the congregation lined up to venerate the relic of St Faustina.
All those who came were also treated to dinner sponsored by a few families from the Ministry of Hospitality. It was an occasion where the parishioners came together as a family celebrating the feast day of our patron saint, St Faustina.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
15th October, 2016