Introduction The gospel today is about the ten lepers healed by

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Introduction The gospel today is about the ten lepers healed by Jesus, of whom only one (ten percent)
thanked him. Only Luke tells us of this incident: the gentle Luke must have been impressed by the lack
of gratitude for Jesus’ loving gesture. And yet we probably show much less than ten percent of gratitude
for the gifts God showers on us from birth to death, and beyond.
The Readings                                                  2 Kings 5.14-17. “ Tim 2.8-13. Luke 17.11-19
In Jewish terms, Naaman was a pagan, yet his gratitude and acknowledgment of God was greater than
any Jew’s, as Jesus himself was to point out to the Jews centuries later. The two mules’ worth of soil he
asked for was so that he could worship God on Jewish soil, because in the understanding of the time
each land had its own god. Paul’s gratitude on the other hand, makes him give up even his own life.
Many of you will have heard of the 80:20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, after an eighteenth-
century Italian economist. It seems to be a natural law or phenomenon that very often two elements in
any given situation are in the ratio of 8:2 or 80% to 20%. There are so many instances that it is
sometimes considered a law of nature. So for instance, in a marketing context, 80% of your sales, in
value, will come from 20% of your customers. I hesitate to apply the rule to our parish but we can
probably safely say that 80% of the tasks and duties of the parish are done by 20% of the parishioners,
and this would be normal. Our recent audit of our gift-aid scheme showed on the other hand that some
80% of our parishioners are gift-aid subscribers and 20% not: and that’s very good. It also is likely that
as it happens some 80% of our income comes from 20% of our parishioners. That is not good or bad –
it’s just how the profile of our parish happens to be.
● Since this is supposed to be a Sunday homily perhaps we should be applying this rule rather to the
gospel and to ourselves as individuals in our relationship to God. The ratio of ungrateful lepers to
grateful was not 80:20 but 90:10. As for us, we have received everything from Him – our being, our
continued existence, every breath we take, every beat of our hearts, every joy as well as every sorrow.
That’s the 100% - and how much do we return, whether in thanks or supplication, adoration or
resignation, or service to others? The expected answer is 20% according to the Pareto Principle, 10%
according to today’s example of the Lepers, a lot less if we are honest and examine our consciences.
● This suggests there is room for improvement in all of us. I suggest it is unlikely we will ever approach
the 20% efficiency ratio of Pareto. Not only that, but the whole principle of our relating to God is not
the efficiency of our response but his infinite power and love. The nine who went to the priests
were doing the efficient thing. The one who came to Jesus came out of grateful love. We venerate the
saints who might be said to have come much closer to an efficiency standard. The martyrs for instance,
but also others like Newman, gave their all. The red of their blood or their sacrifice cancelled the red of
their overdraft with the heavenly Banco di Santo Spirito. I have just been reading the life of Newman by
John Cornwell. His conversion was one of enormous sacrifice of all he knew and loved – Oxford for
instance, where he desired nothing more than to live forever and of which after his conversion, as he
says, he saw only its towers and pinnacles from the train. It involved in the subsequent third of his life
constant sacrifice, study, battling with rivals and enemies, misunderstandings and jealousies. Yet he
would be the first to attribute all to God’s grace and love. In his case the Pareto principle is turned on its
head. Like the parable of the yeast and the dough, his faithfulness and love was turned by grace into a
strength and a power which resisted all opposition and the forces of detraction and brought him to
beatification and beatitude. By his intercession and by our Eucharist may it become the same for us in
our pilgrimage too.

OPENING – God reaches out to all our needs if we but ask: Let us pray for our needs.
CLOSING – Lord God, you continue to perform mighty deeds on our behalf: may faith and
gratitude be ever evident in our world as we strive to reach out to all in need. Thro’ Xt. &c.

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