Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lectionary Notes

Some Notes on All Saints’ Day, Year B

There seems to be no point in repeating the general notes that were provided for the feast of All Saints last year, and are posted on this blog under the date of 1 November 2008. However, a further note on the Collect that As we noted then, the Collect for this feast in the BAS is an adaptation of the traditional Prayer Book Collect, which appears to have been composed for the first book of 1549. It might be interesting to note how this Collect has changed since the first Prayer Book of 1549.
The first Prayer Book prayed God to grant us grace so to follow this holy Saints in all virtues and godly living. In 1662 this was altered to all virtuous and godly living, which was retained in the Canadian Book of 1962. In the BAS this became lives of faith and commitment. Which, if either, of these is in any way better I leave to your judgement. One would only hope that by following the saints in lives of faith and commitment we will all increase in virtue and godly living.
The change of unspeakable to inexpressible was probably unavoidable, as unspeakable has gained a pejorative sense. I find the older words sound better, but there you are.
All Saints and All Souls : the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed can hardly be separated, but make a two-day commemoration of those who have died in Christ. The readings for Year B make this clear, for the first choice of first reading appointed for All Saints this year, Wisdom 3.1-9 is also the first reading for All Souls. Just what the distinction between the two commemorations might be is hard to say, especially since our Church has no formal doctrines concerning the prayers of the Saints or of Purgatory —though a variety of opinions and practices on these matters are held by its members. Nonetheless, the ground for some distinction does exist in the practice of placing the names of certain of the faithful departed in the calendar to be remembered. For further thought on this question, you would do well to consult the entries for these feasts in Fr Reynold’s For All the Saints. I wold also recommend for reading at this season a recent book by N. T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (HarperCollins, 2008), which is also an excellent Lent book.

The Readings
First Reading: Wisdom of Solomon 3.1-9 or Isaiah 25.6-9
At St Columba and All Hallows the reading from the Wisdom of Solomon will be read on All Saints’ Day this year. The alternative reading, Isaiah 25.6-9 contains a vision of the Lord’s feast for all nations at the end time. This saving vision speaks of the conquest of death; its promise that the Lord “will wipe away the tears from all faces” is echoed in the reading from the Book of Revelation.
Internal evidence suggests that the Wisdom of Solomon is not the work of that monarch, but of a Hellenistic Jew, possibly of Alexandria, in the first century before Christ. It was written in Greek, though the first chapters show signs of having been translated from Hebrew originals. It was part of the Greek version of the Scriptures, the Septuagint, which were excluded from canon established by the Jewish authorities after the fall of Jerusalem. However, along with other books of the so-called apocrypha, it formed part of the Christian Old Testament and has been read as such in the Roman and Eastern Churches. Although the Anglican Church went with other Protestant and Reformed teaching in denying that these books are canonical, or may be read to establish doctrine, it has always included them in the lectionary.
When the commemoration of the faithful departed was restored to the Canadian Calendar, Wisdom 3.1-9 was appointed as the lesson at the Eucharist.

Psalm 24
is said by the New Oxford Annotated Bible to be “a liturgy on entering the sanctuary, probably used in connection with a procession of the ark. It is imagined as having been sung by two choirs, one inside and one outside the temple. Within the temple gates is sung an acknowledgement of the Lord as creator [1-2]. The choir then asks and answers the question, “Who is worthy to be admitted to the temple?” [3-6]. Verses 7-10 are a dialogue in which the choir without the gates, presumably carrying the ark, demands admittance. In verse 7 the heads of the gates are the lintels.
It is obvious that this Psalm is read on All Saints because of verses 3-6, the description of those who seek the face of the Lord and are worthy to ascend his hill. However, it might not be too far-fetched to recall that verses 7-10 figure in the ancient legend of Christ’s Harrowing of Hell. When the Crucified Lord Christ descends to the place of departed spirits (see the BCP p. 545), these verses are heard. Thus in the Christian mind, these words are associated with the victory of Christ over the everlasting doors of Hell. Let them echo in your mind as you hear the final verses of the Gospel passage being read.

Second Reading: Revelation 21.1-6a
Time does not permit much comment on the reading from the Revelation of John also known as the Apocalypse (which is merely “revelation” in Greek). Please note that there is no ‘s’ in Revelation.
In commenting on this passage, N T Wright suggests that this scene of cosmic renewal “is not well enough known or pondered (perhaps because, in order to earn the right to read it, one should really read the rest of the Revelation of St John first, which proves too daunting for many).”
There are two particular promises in this vision of the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven which are particularly important for the present feast. The first is the great declaration that “The home of God is among mortals.” Can there be any more perfect fulfilment of all the promises of scripture than this?
While I understand the need to avoid exclusive language, I must ask whether “among mortals” is a good translation for μετὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων: “Mortals” does not mean “human beings, but all that are subject to death. While it is an important truth that God cares for all his creatures, that does not seem to be the point here. Further, I wonder whether “home” best renders ἡ σκηνὴ, literally “tent” or “tabernacle”: “dwelling” seems less definitive. But I digress.
The other promise is the abolition of death and tears and sorrow; which should be read in close connection with the Gospel account of the raising of Lazarus; for what do we see in God’s perfect self-revelation but that he takes part in and shares our grief.

The Holy Gospel, John 11.32-44
The pressure of sermons that need to be prepared has overwhelmed me, and I am unable to make any useful comments now. I do recommend the comments on this passage in William Temple’s Readings in St John’s Gospel.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lectionary Notes

Some Notes for the Sunday between 23 and 29th October
Sunday, 25 October 2009: The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost,
Proper 30, Year B

The First Reading : Job 42.1-6, 10-17
The conclusion of the Book of Job. The reading has two sections. Verses 1-6 are the end of the poem of Job; verses 10-17 are from the prose epilogue, which is in the same style as the opening chapters of the book. Verses 7-9, the Lord’s judgement on Job’s three friends, are omitted. In the end the Lord restores Job’s fortune twofold.
There are some questions about the text of these verses, for which a good commentary should be consulted. Note especially that in verses 2-4 Job quotes words of the Lord we heard in last week’s reading.
Job acknowledges that understanding the world and the divine plan is beyond him. Where before he had believed by hearing, now he has seen the Lord; [v. 5]as NOAB comments, this is “the contrast between belief through tradition and faith through prophetic vision.” Indeed, the philosophical problem of suffering is not solved in the Book of Job. Its end is not the vindication of Job but his acceptance by the Creator. Perhaps the ongoing relationship with the God is the only real answer there is.
It is interesting that in the restoration of Job there is no mention that his disease is healed, though surely we may assume that it was. Note also the unusal fact that the three daughters of Job are named: Jemimah (dove), Keziah (cassia), and Keren-happuch (horn of antimony —a black eye shadow). The commentary of Rashi says that “They were named according to their beauty: Jemimah: Bright and white as the sun (יום); Keziah: She had a fragrant and perfumed scent like the spice, cassia; Keren-happuch: Because of the horn in which they put stibium and lixivium, as it is stated (Jer. 4:30): ‘that you enlarge your eye with paint (בפוך).’” The daughters also receive an inheritance along with their brothers, which is not only a sign of Job’s immense wealth but also (as it has been suggested) an assurance that they woul make good marriages. NOAB suggests that the names have a flavour of folklore.
A church-goer might be forgiven for failing to recognize the great beauty and wisdom of the Book of Job from the brief snippets we hear in the Sunday lectionary. Perhaps this is good, as it points out the need to know the Bible better. This is also true of the selections from Hebrews we are reading, which leave out important parts of the thought (a further note on that comes below).
Psalm 34.1-8 (19-22)
An alphabetical acrostic, as are Psalms 9, 10 and 25. The traditional superscription, found in texts of the Bible, but not in the Liturgical Psalter, ascribe this Psalm to “David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away”. For this incident, see 1 Samuel 21.10-15, where Abimelech is called Achish the king of Gath.
Like Job, the psalmist has experienced evils and been saved by the Lord; therefore he calls on the people to praise the Lord with him.
Read today, this is an obvious meditation on the lection from Job. Note that the importance of faith by seeing is stressed: “O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man that trusts in him.”
In liturgical use there is no particular reason not to use the whole psalm, though unless we are going to read or chant it slowly and carefully, there is no particular reason to do so.

The Epistle : Hebrews 7.23-28
In an earlier form of the lectionary (which will be found in most copies of the BAS: the change to the RCL was made in a later printing, check the title page to see which one you have) Hebrews 7.1-10 was read this Sunday; now the RCL gives us 7.23-28. The former practice had the advantage of explaining further the references to Melchizedek, King of Salem, in the reading the week before. Instead we have part of a much longer argument, and indeed a pronoun [“he” in verse 24] whose antecedent [“Jesus” in verse 22] has to be supplied. If anyone who reads the lessons in Church is following this I would remind them to review the directions in the third paragraph of page 266 of the BAS. This is one of the readings to which these directions most clearly apply!
The passage we read is a very important part of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and contains the great declaration that Christ’s offering was made “once for all when he offered up himself”, which is so well stressed in the Eucharistic Prayer of the BCP in saying that on the Cross Christ made “by his one oblation of himself once offered” the only true and complete sacrifice for the whole world.
Space is too short to give a useful list of readings on the question of what is meant by the Eucharistic sacrifice and how it relates to the once-for-all event of Calvary; Eric Mascall's Corpus Christi might be a good start.
The teaching of Hebrews about Christ’s perfect sacrifice does not stop here, but follows the analogy of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant to show that it includes not only his death but his ascension into the heavenly sanctuary: over the next few weeks we continue to read gobbets from this complex argument. Here again it is abundantly clear that the passages read in Church are not sufficient: in order to benefit from them a person needs to be familiar with the whole of the Epistle. If anything shows the necessity of regular Bible-reading, it is the passages chosen to be proclaimed in Church.
Now it would not take anyone very long to read through Hebrews (or Job, for that matter) with enough attention to make it possible to follow and understand the selection heard in Church. If we could be sure that enough of the congregation did this, it would be far easier to preach sermons that were profitable to them!
Canon Bright’s hymn, Once, only once, and once for all would be good to sing this Sunday; it is not in the new Common Praise.

The Holy Gospel according to St Mark, 10.46-52
This passage tells the story of the healing of the blind beggar Bartimaeus outside of Jericho: the parallel passages, Matthew 20:29-34 and Luke 18:35-43, differ in certain details, not the least of which are the number of the blind men and the fact that neither Matthew nor Luke call him by name. Scholars differ on the implications of this fact. See R. Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (2006), p. 41.
This passage concludes a section of Mark’s Gospel. In coming to Jericho, Jesus and his disciples have come within twenty miles of Jerusalem: the next section is the entry into the holy city, and the prelude to Christ’s Passion. The section that ends with Bartimaeus also began with the healing of a blind beggar (8.22-26); it is concerned throughout with sight and faith. In it we hear the three prophecies of the Passion, each followed by an instance of the disciples’ inability to understand (or see) the meaning of Jesus ministry, even when they can confess that he is the Christ. One meaning of this section is that all are in need of Jesus’ healing before they can see the truth, whether their blindness was physical or spiritual.
In the interests of space, here are just a few comments.
“Bartimaeus … the son of Timaeus”. Bartimaeus itself means “son of Timaeus” in Aramaic. Is the writer displaying an ignorance, or giving a clumsy aid to non-Jewish readers? See Bauckham, p. 79.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Son of David was a messianic title in that it designated Jesus as heir of the promise made to David (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14; Psalm 89:28-37). Before this only the disciples and demons have recognized Jesus’ true identity; they were always commanded to be silent. This is the first public declaration of Jesus as Messiah that goes without rebuke. This is perhaps another sign that we are on the brink of the final conflict.
Notice that when Jesus calls Bartimaeus to him he does it though others (it is not clear whether the disciples are meant or the crowd): “Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’” The message is relayed to Bartimaeus as Christ’s call: “Take heart; rise, he is calling you”. Do we always realize that Christ’s normal way of calling folk is through us?
“Throwing off his mantle”. This shows Bartimaeus’ eagerness to answer the call of Jesus, and is reminiscent of the call of the first disciples, who left their nets and boats and all to follow Jesus. The similarity is closer that one might at first think, for it was the custom for beggars to receive alms in their mantles or cloaks which were spread on the ground for that purpose. So here, like the fishermen, Bartimaeus is throwing away a means of livelihood, a symbol of the old life. The final words of the passage, “and followed him on the way,” makes this more clear.
“The way” was used as a technical term for the Christian life by the earliest Christians (see Acts 9.2).
In a note in Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, he quotes an observation of G. Thiessen, that “Bartimaeus ‘is the only healed person the miracle story tells us became a “follower” in the narrower sense,’” and adds “In form, Mark’s story of Bartimaeus … resembles a story of the call of a disciple as much or perhaps more than the story of a healing miracle” (p 45, n. 25, and see references there). This point should be very helpful for our reading of this passage.
Although there are many more things I should say, I must turn from writing notes and buckle down to preparing a sermon, and so I will tale my leave of you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lectionary Notes

A Note on the Sunday between 16 and 22 October
18 October AD 2009
The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 29, Year B

Since certain other commitments are weighing heavily this week, it seems better to provide one interesting comment on the Gospel reading than a number of trite comments on the whole Sunday lectionary. Useful comments on the other readings may be found as usual at the Diocese of Montreal’s Revised Common Lectionary site:
The point I want to make is not often found in commentaries. indeed, although I know I read or heard it somewhere, I cannot remember where. I can only be sure it is not my own clever idea.
The Holy Gospel: Mark 10.35-45
The incident reported in this reading follows immediately Jesus’ third prediction of his passion. As with the other predictions, the disciples’ concern for rank and leadership in the community and the kingdom shows how little they understood what Jesus was telling them.
This time the stars of the story are James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They and Peter seemed to have formed an inner group of disciples : they alone were present in the Garden of Gethsemane and at the Transfiguration. They come to Jesus with a request for the places of honour “when he comes into his kingdom”. Commentators are not agreed on what this means. The idea of being seated at his right and left had would seem to refer to the messianic banquet. We might be content, though to follow the early writer Theophylact, who simply said “Now the above mentioned disciples thought that He was going up to Jerusalem, to reign there”.
The Lord’s reponse to their request is clear. He says: “You do not understand what you mean when you ask this. I have just told you that the Son of Man, the Messiah, is going to suffer. Are you able to go to the same fate?” His reference to the cup becomes clear in Gethsemane: when he prays, “remove this cup from me”. (For the references see the RCL site, or a Bible with good notes.) It is also clear that when the brothers say (with a speed and brevity that makes it all too clear they still don’t understand), “We are able!” that they will, indeed drink his cup and be baptized with his baptism.
Jesus goes on to say that although they will share his cup and baptism, “but to sit at my right hand or my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” [v. 40]. These words are rich in meaning. One valuable comment comes from Eduard Schweizer:
"The fact that Jesus has left open the question for whom these places of honour have been prepared (by God) makes it very clear that to Jesus, discipleship does not allow one to claim any special reward. In a very pointed manner, Jesus rejects the idea that suffering is meritorious. The fact that one suffers in some specific way as a part of sharing in the pathway of Jesus does not qualify him to receive a reward, neither does it allow him to make any special demand. It is certain, however, that God will never forget it."
For the Lord does not say who it is these places have been prepared for. St Matthew’s version adds the words “by my Father” [Mt 20.23], but this does not answer the question.
Now when we remember that this incident is the sequel to Jesus’ prediction of his passion, and take seriously the references to the cup and the baptism, we should expect that these words about his right and left hand also have a relation to the Passion. Indeed, the Gospels do show us two persons who are granted the places at Jesus’s right hand and his left: for in Mark 15 27 we read, “And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.” (There is no difference between saying “on his right hand ….” and “on his right …” : same expression is used in both cases in Greek.)
Long ago, Henry Alford, the Dean of Canterbury, commenting on St Matthew’s version of the request of James and John wrote:
“One at least of these brethren {sc John] saw the Lord on His Cross—on His right and left hand the crucified thieves. Bitter indeed must the remembrance of this ambitious prayer have been at that moment! Luther remarks, ‘The flesh ever seeks to be glorified, before it is crucified: exalted before it is abased.’” [The New Testament for English Readers, vol I, part I, 1868].
I am still working on the rest of this Gospel passage, for there is no little danger in the teaching that who would be first must be a servant! How many men and women have found that taking the way of a servant is the way of power and control, in a sense far different from what Jesus had in mind. We may think of the odious and servile Uriah Heap in David Copperfield, of the woman in one of Lewis’ pieces of whom it is said: "She's the sort of woman who lives for others—you can always tell the others by their hunted expression" [The Screwtape Letters], of countless secretaries of committees. But this is all going into the sermon for Sunday, and I must now stop.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lectionary Notes

Some Notes for Harvest Thanksgiving
Sunday, 11 October, AD 2009

Haec (i.e. gratia) enim est una virtus non solum maxima sed etiam mater virtutum omnium reliquarum: Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. Cicero, Pro Cn. Plancio, 80.

Thankfulness is an attitude of the the spirit, indeed it is a way of life which lies at the heart of our faith: the idea of thankfulness cannot be spearated from that of grace: indeed, in latin langauges the words are the same, for gratia, grace, means both the ‘favour’ or ‘gift’ and the thanks that is rendered for it. Hence we call the blessing said over food a ‘grace’. From the Greek χάρις, which has much the same range of meaning, comes eucharist, the name of the great sacrament of our salvation
One might wonder why such an important virtue as gratitude is not included among the four cardinal virtues, Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortitude. St Thomas ranks it as a special virtue under the heading of Justice, which is "Rendering to each one his right" [2a2ae, 58, 1]. Since all we have and all we are is grace, an unearned gift of God, we owe him grace, thankfulness.

Here are a few of the many quotations on the theme of gratitude one can find on line.
G. K. Chesterton: You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
~ When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?
William A. Ward : God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?"
John E. Southard : The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.
Thomas Fuller: Gratitude is the least of the virtues, but ingratitude is the worst of vices.
Joseph Addison: There is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind than gratitude. It is accompanied with such an inward satisfaction that the duty is sufficiently rewarded by the performance.
Meister Eckhart: If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.
George Herbert: Thou hast given so much to me, / Give one thing more, - a grateful heart; / Not thankful when it pleaseth me, / As if Thy blessings had spare days, / But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
Eric Hoffer, Reflections On The Human Condition: The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
For balance, here are a few about the vice of ingratitude:
TimothyDexter: An ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they come from.
Dennis Prager: All happy people are grateful. Ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that being unhappy leads people to complain, but it's truer to say that complaining leads to people becoming unhappy.
Publilius Syrus: One ungrateful man does an injury to all who stand in need of aid
And of course,
Shakespeare, King Lear: How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is / To have a thankless child!

The Readings:
Although the lectionary provides three sets of readings for Harvest Thanksgiving, the Canadian Church does not appropriate each set to a particular year of the three-year cycle (see pp 396ff in the BAS). So while the commentary in the Revised Common Lectionary Website of the Diocese of Montreal comments on the second set this year, as if they were “Year B”, I have a preference for the first set. Last year my notes on the readings for Harvest Thanksgiving were rather skimpy and I am glad to have a chance to correct this . However, please refer to those notes (9 October, 2008) for some general remarks on the festival.
Overall, the readings teach that every gift is from God. More precisely, the lesson of thanksgiving is that everything is a gift

The First Reading: Deuteronomy 8.7-18
On the brink of their crossing over to the river Jordan into the Promised Land, Moses addresses the people of Israel to remind them of the mighty acts of God by which they were liberated from Egypt and of the laws and commandments on which their status as his chosen people depended. In the eighth chapter he insists on their remembering and obeying these laws, and remembering the harsh conditions of the exodus and sojourn in the wilderness. If they remember these things, when they enter into Canaan, the good and rich land, and have eaten and are full, they will bless the Lord their God for the excellent land which he has given them [8.7-10]
We may note two things here before moving on. The first is that to bless the Lord for something is to give thanks. The other is that the words of this chapter are addressed in the singular: “the Lord thy God is bringing thee into a good land ….Thou shalt eat thy fill and bless the Lord thy God …”. This is something we miss in modern English. Do we not lose thereby a sense of each individual in every generaltion being addressed?
At verse 11 comes what Robert Burton called “the caveat of Moses”: when you first come into the land you will give thanks, for the memory will be fresh, but what when you are settled? Beware lest in the midst of prosperity you be puffed up: acknowledge the riches you have to be his good gifts and benefits, and the more you have to be more thankful. The warning is necessary, for it is human nature to take what we for granted, if not as an inalienable right and entitlement. Do you remember Charlie Anderson’s grace in the movie Shenandoah (1965)?
“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn't be here and we wouldn't be eating it if we hadn't done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you, Lord, just the same for the food we're about to eat, amen.”
Surely the Andersons worked hard. But how much of the result was a gift entirely beyond their control?

Psalm 65
This is a psalm of thanksgiving for a good harvest. The notes in the NOAB give this outline for the Psalm: vv.1-5, it is good to gather at the tempe to sing God’s praises; 6-8, it was he who created the world; 9-13, and it is he who makes the earth fertile.

The Epistle, 2 Corinthians 9.6-15.
Gratitude is best shown in generosity.
A collection was being taken in the Churches of Achaia (Greece) and Macedonia for the relief of the Church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corithians are concerned with this offering (see also Galatians 2.1-10, 1 Cor 16.1-4, Rom 15.25-27). Paul urges the Corinthians to be generous in their contribution. He reminds them that God’s gifts are given precisely so that they may be shared (See also Romans 14.7: None of us lives to himself).

The Holy Gospel: Luke 17.11-19
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. That is, he is on his way to the final conflict and the cross. See Luke 9.51. then Jesus cleanses ten lepers, only one returns to give thanks, and that one is a foreigner, a Samaritan.
As we have noted before, in Scripture the term leprosy is used for a variety of diseases which are not necessarily the illness now known as leprosy. According to the Law (Leviticus 13.45-6) those afflicted with these disorders were to live alone and apart from the community, wearing torn clothes with their hair unkept, and covering their upper lip to cry “Unclean! unclean!”. Numbers 5.1-4 lays down that the lepers were to be put out of the camp. So the ten lepers call for Jesus’ mercy from a distance. Note that they do nto specifically ask to be healed.
The term ‘Master’ is possibly misleading – we are likely to think of the word as more or less equivalent to “Lord”, as in “the Master of the house”, or “Master, the experiment is ready”. But the word here is not kyrie or dominus, but epistata, literally “one set over”; this is rendered in the Latin version as praeceptor, or Teacher. It is equivalent to Rabbi. If we must use “master” what we should think of is “school master”. The same word is found at Luke 5.5, 8.24 and 45, and 9.33 and 49, where the meaning is also “teacher”.
The one who returned thanks for healing was a Samaritan. On the Samaritans, see als Luke 9.51-55, 10.33, and Acts 8.4-25. This passage, in which gratitude is found only in the stranger, is like Luke 7.2-10, in which the Centurion shows such faith in Jesus that the Lord declares, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith”.
One might wonder just what we are to gather from this story: the thankfulness of the Samaritan is praised, as is his faith, which has “made him well”. But we are not told that the nine suffered in any way for their lack of gratitude. (Perhaps we should not even say that they were ungrateful; only that they neglected to express their gratitude!) Nor did they lose the gift of healing because they did not give glory to God (who, after all, makes his sun to shine on the evil and on the good).
One point is clear: that when we read this passage on Thanksgiving we are challenged to ask whether we return to give thanks, or just go on our way, perhaps forgetting the stupendous gifts we receive. In this it brings us back to the first reading, where we are warned against forgetfulness of God, which is the cause of disobedience, and as such is surely equivalent to a lack of faith.