Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A life cannot be rich without gratitude

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” ― Thomas Merton: (1915 – 1968: Catholic author & Trappist monk)

Gospel Text: (LK 17:11-19)
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.”

“Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine?” Jesus demands to know in today’s gospel.

At one level, these are peculiar questions.  The other nine obeyed Jesus’ command to go show themselves to the priest.  They’re heading in the direction Jesus told them to go.  Still, they were lacking something.

Is it the point of this story to sting the ungrateful?  That certainly is a clear message.  But perhaps the crucial point of the story is to emphasize the importance of gratitude.

“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.”  This leper no longer had to shout from a safe distance.  He came right up to Jesus and said “thank you!” That leper was “made well,” (from the Greek sesoken, healed of spiritual disease and death.)  The other nine were merely cleansed (ekatharisthesan, made clean of a disease.)

Gratitude, in other words, is fundamental to wholeness of mind, body and spirit.  A grateful person is one who experiences a healing that goes beyond the merely physical cure.  The Samaritan was restored to his family, his community, to wholeness in God.

In his book, Sacred Fire, Ronald Rolheiser writes: “Gratitude is the basis for all holiness.  The holiest person you know is also the most grateful person you know.”  To emphasize his point, Rolheiser urges us to “live in gratitude, and thank your Creator by enjoying your life.”

God blesses us, restores us, makes us whole, in so many ways, ways that we all too often take for granted.  Today’s gospel tells us to start living like that 10th leper every day, to fall before Jesus and say simply “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

1 comment:

  1. Really like how you distinguish the Gospel reading (italics)! Thanks!