October 9, 2016 - Gratitude Among the Rarest of Virtues
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Father Gregory Woodward, LC
Luke 17: 11-19
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are present here as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.
Petition: Lord, may I know what gratitude really is and live up to this call.
1. Jesus Shows Pity: It is easy to forget at times what it meant to be a leper in Jesus' time. Such a person had to separate himself from the community, live outside the town, and declare himself "unclean" when anybody started to approach him. Since illness was also equated with sin. According to the mentality of the time, God punished the sinner with physical illness. Thus, to have to shout "unclean" meant that one had to publicly declare he was a sinner. So, as miserable a state as leprosy was, worse still was the shame of it. From here we understand better the sense of desperation and urgency in the lepers' petition: "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" There is such thing as spiritual leprosy too, but Jesus can heal the sickness in our soul within confession. As Christians we should look for this as ardently as the ten lepers looked to be healed of their bodily leprosy.
2. The Lepers Were Cleansed: Jesus felt obliged to perform the miracle of curing these ten lepers; they truly believed he could do it. That is why Jesus so hastily tells them to go to the priest as prescribed by the law and have their return to health officially recognized; thus will end their banishment and disgrace. However, in their burst of joy nine of the cured ten forget to say "thank you." At first it seems strange to us that they would omit this, after being transformed in one moment from utter misery to a clean bill of health. However, we often do the same; we forget to say thanks in the joy of a moment when someone has really helped us or resolved a major problem for us.
3. "Stand up and go." It did occur to one leper, a foreigner, to come back and say "thank you"; it was the Samaritan leper. In Jesus' time Samaritans and Jews normally despised each other, which probably makes his words of thanks to Jesus all the more remarkable. However, what really catches Jesus' attention is the fact that only one person comes back to express his words of gratitude. Doesn't this passage remind us of how rare is the virtue of gratitude in the human heart? The cured Samaritan's faith has saved him, and it wouldn't be rash of us to think that he used especially well the new gift of health the Lord had given him. Those who are really grateful for what they receive from God generally use more zealously and profitably the gifts they are given.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I realize now how many things I might take for granted in life. May this meditation really be a renewal in looking for spiritual healing in you and in using well all the talents and gifts you have given me.
Resolution: I will make a special effort to thank anyone who has assisted or served me in any way today or just recently.