As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” (Luke 17:11-19)
What a poignant Gospel passage! One to which we should respond as if we had a serious itch. But since we can’t reach the source of the itch, we try to forget it and move on but find that we really can’t.
The issue here is not simply one of non-gratitude. It is also an issue of moral leprosy. Moral leprosy in the sense of our mortal selfishness. A selfishness, at times, that blinds us to the source of our life and of our salvation. Truth is that too often in our lives – unless we are ” bargaining” with God – we don’t take the time to say thank you to Him for even the simple things in life.
You and I have been there many times. We allow our wants, needs, fears and desires to overshadow the true gifts from God. We enjoy a sunset over the ocean but before we give thanks, we see a large sailboat and wish it was ours. We have the basic necessities to live a decent life but before we give thanks, we remember what we don’t have. We have dear relationships with a friend or relative but before we give thanks, for their presence in our lives, we push them away because they don’t agree with our politics.
Who among us does not feel in some degree convicted by this warning? Who among us has failed to remember, or even notice, the goodness, mercy and love of God, and the blessings lavished upon us in Jesus Christ our Lord?
Ingratitude is an ugly thing and in stark contrast to the beauty of gratitude. Not to live with an attitude of gratitude towards God is more than being impolite – ingratitude is ugly because it’s positively unjust. Gratitude, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful flowers in the whole garden of virtue. It directly contradicts self-centeredness, self-indulgence, and self-absorption. It builds bridges, unites communities, and softens hearts. It encourages and inspires. It cuts through discouragement and counteracts depression. It opens the soul to the truth and releases anxiety. It brings smiles and gladness wherever it blooms. What a pity that it is as rare as it is lovely!
Giving thank ls also a powerful attribute because of what it does to us. When we give thanks, we are no longer passive recipients; we become active givers, giving back to One who has given us what we do not deserve. When we become active givers, God places us on another level another level capable of receiving even more from him. By giving thanks for what he had received, the leper was capable of receiving more from God. Indeed, he did receive more he was saved. Saved by God’s mercy, he was now capable of receiving still more, of growing in intimacy with God. God invites us into a personal relationship today.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, Fill my heart with compassion and thanksgiving, and free me from ingratitude and discontentment. Help me to count my blessings with a grateful heart and to give thanks in all circumstances.
A true measure of our faith is our ability to acknowledge and to celebrate the source of our well-being when life is good and we have no felt need for healing. A more telling measure is our capacity to say a simple word of thanks to all those who mediate to us the goodness of a compassionate and merciful God, whatever our circumstances. Our faith is our life and God comes to us, in many ways, throughout our life. Don’t miss Him because you allow your universe to cloud His.