Monday, October 14, 2013

Exitus reditus: 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

            This morning I’m going to pull out the geek card and teach you some Latin.  Don’t worry, it’s only two words and there will not be a quiz after Mass.  This short phrase captures our Catholic understanding of the movement of grace from God to us and then our response.  Exitus reditus.  Exitus refers to the grace which exits from God and reditus to what we give back to Him.  
            Ideally we readily recognize the gifts God has given us, especially those we take for granted.  For instance, I am standing here, a gift which many don’t have.  I can walk, even run.  I can see you.  My most basic human needs—food, water and shelter—are taken care of in abundance.  These are examples of the exitus of God.  I need to thank God for these gifts in my reditus—my response.
            This can be difficult because we are inherently selfish.  You parents know this better than I.  How many of your children started saying, “Please” and “Thank you” without you telling them to?  Have you ever told your teenage daughter she doesn’t need to share her clothes so much with her sister?  We are born to say and think, “This is mine” and need to be taught to share, have good manners, and show appreciation. 
            We see this principle at work in our readings about the lepers.  Naaman the Syrian was cleansed of this disease.  This was a complete gift from God and Naaman offered a good response to this gift: “…please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth, for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the LORD.”
            Jesus heals ten lepers in the Gospel.  This in itself was more than a cure—it was a new start for these ten.  Lepers not only had a disease, but also a curse as they had to live outside of the community and away from their family and friends.  Jesus went out to meet these men and gave them a great gift—a concrete example of the exitus of God.  Only one responded by saying “Thank you.”
            The greatest response we can offer to God is by participating in Mass.  In fact, the Greek word for Eucharist means thanksgiving.  It is in the Mass we offer to God our thanksgiving for the abundant gifts he gives us.  We present to Him our joys and our sorrows to praise His name.
            This happens in a powerful way during a simple part of the Mass—the presentation of the gifts.  When I was a kid, I thought the collection was half-time of Mass—a time to catch a quick nap or hit my brother.  Yet so much happens, or should happen, as we present to God our tithing of money, the bread and the wine.  This is our opportunity to offer to God our reditus as we present to God not only physical cash, bread and wine but our spiritual offerings of everything we have from God.  We present everything to God at the altar and he consecrates our offerings into something miraculous—Jesus’ own Body and Blood.
            We pray this morning to grow in our reditus to God.  In so doing we say “Thank you” for His exitus in all He gives us.

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