Today’s Gospel is the story of the ten people with leprosy who were healed by Jesus – or were they? Jesus seems to think not when only one comes back to thank Him. The other nine might have had their physical disease taken away, but their humanity was still unhealed because they weren’t grateful (or at least didn’t express that gratitude appropriately). Could we find ourselves among those nine?
I know when I or someone close to me needs God’s help I’m all too ready to ask for it. But then once I find my keys (or whatever it happens to be), I may – may – think to say a quick prayer of thanks; but often I don’t even do that because I’m off to something else. I wonder – for myself, you can ask the question of yourself – what the balance is between saying “Help!” and saying “Thanks!” in prayer?
There’s nothing wrong with saying “help,” of course – we could probably stand to do it more, if that reminded us that God’s grace always surrounds and supports us. But not saying “thanks” is what today’s Gospel asks us to think about. I know that a lot of people are experiencing tough times, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. That can make it hard to find things to be grateful for. But gratitude is a habit – with practice, it becomes easier. Consider:
I’m sure you can add more once you get into the groove of it… But don’t let it stop with warm thoughts. Those nine ex-lepers probably had warm thoughts about Jesus, but that wasn’t enough. Do something concrete.
(Personal examples: Several years ago I looked up the date of my baptism, and now each year I give a gift to Catholic Relief Services on that date as a way of saying “thank-you” for the gift of faith to Christ present in His poor. Last spring I was thinking about some of my teachers who had an impact on me, and I decided to write one a letter telling him how much he did for me (Google is amazing in tracking people down…).)
When Jesus sent his disciples out on mission, he tells them, “The gift you have received, give as a gift.” (Matthew 10:8, NAB). The life of Christ grows from exchange – gratefulness for what we have been given, sacrificial generosity toward others as the expression of that gratitude. We become generous to the extent that we become grateful.
The bottom line is that people went out of their way – made sacrifices – to make us who we are. The proper way to say “thanks; I recognize and appreciate what you did for me” is to make sacrifices for others. Doing that – consistently – is the sign that our humanity is on the mend. Until next week, peace.