Return to Church in “Thanks-giving”

Posted on November 12, 2021 by Published by

The following is a soft copy of Deacon Paul Onischuk’s homily, given at the Our Lady of the Wayside School Mass on November 10, 2021.

Luke 17:11-19

Let’s start off with some questions.  I believe Ms. Messina’s class is sponsoring today’s all-school mass.  Where are my three volunteers?  Have you been paying attention to the homily?

  • Ok, question #1: how many lepers do we hear about in our Gospel reading today?  How many of the lepers did Jesus heal?
  • Question #2: of the ten lepers that Jesus healed, how many went back to give thanks to him?
  • Question #3: are you good at math?  Ok, what is the percentage of lepers that gave thanks to Jesus.  Yes, one out of ten or 10% returned to “give thanks” to Jesus.

From Jesus’ perspective, is this percentage acceptable?  No.  As we see in the gospel reading, Jesus told the leper who returned…“Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  Jesus expects more of the lepers who were healed to return and give thanks.

Now, for our final, question #4, feel free to consult amongst yourselves or, if need be, you can “phone a friend”: what the word “Eucharist” mean [derived from the Greek word for “thanks-giving”].

Why do I bring this up?  Let’s look at another example.  The number of registered parishioners we have at OLW Parish totals approximately 2,100—healed by Jesus through the sacrament of baptism.  The number of parishioners who routinely go to Sunday Mass to receive the Eucharist in “thanks-giving” totals approximately 700.  So, in this example, the percentage of parishioners who partake in the Eucharist and “give thanks” to Jesus is roughly one-third or 33%.  Is this percentage acceptable?  What would Jesus think?

We need to be better at giving thanks to Jesus [class receiving their first Communion, their first Eucharist, their first “giving-thanks”].  Attendance at first Communion is 100%.  Yes, the first Communion is very important, but guess what…the rest of the Communions are equally important.  Why?  Because Jesus is just as fully present in the first, as he is in the second, the third, the forth, etc.

As I preached about to our kindergarteners a few weeks ago, the students at OLW hear and know the truth of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist.  We learn about and know God’s plan through our Religion classes, the sacraments, and attendance at Mass.  And, my hope is that you lead your families back to Church.  Tell your parents and brothers and sisters about the ten lepers Jesus healed and the one out of ten who returned to “give thanks” to Jesus.  Tell them that the Eucharist means “thanks-giving.”  Tell them that the best way for us to “give thanks” by going to Mass every Sunday.  Tell them that roughly one third or 33% of OLW parishioners “give thanks” by going to Mass every Sunday.  Tell then that Jesus wants us to do better.  You can be—and make—the difference.

So, my final question to all here today… will you tell your families and lead them back to Church in “thanks-giving?”


If you’d like to watch Deacon Paul’s interactive homily with OLW School’s Children, click HERE.


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