Gratitude pays (Luke 17:11-19)
Let us teach our children gratitude.
In the story, even children will understand the greatness of small things.
The story tells of an ant drowning in the water of a brook. A dove saw it. She took a blade of grass and, holding it in her beak, approached the ant. The ant scrambled on top of it and saved itself. After a while, the ant carried the grain. He saw a hunter about to shoot a dove. He quickly dropped the grain, scrambled up the hunter’s boot, and bit him on the leg. The hunter jumped in pain and missed, and the dove was saved.
Each can be helpful to the other, but we should be grateful to each other for the goodness, love, and help shown… How good it is to read in the parish announcements, or to hear in the reports, that the faithful remember to give thanks and give to the Mass to give thanks… Have you also thought of forgetting ingratitude and noticing gratitude more? Gratitude is said to be the best medicine, the most beautiful rose, the most potent weapon, and whatnot…
Jesus said to the Samaritan, the only one of the ten healed who came to thank Jesus: “Get up and walk; your faith has healed you” (Lk 17:19).
The Gospels tell us about the conduct of the Lord Jesus that wherever He went, He did good and did not enjoy human praise or glorification. He did it quietly, without the effects that human popularity should bring Him. After the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, when the multitude wanted to make him king, he withdrew himself into silence and solitude. Of almsgiving, he said: “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may remain hidden. And your Father will reward you, for he sees even in secret” (Mt 6:3-4). Jesus teaches: whoever gives a gift, let him not act in such a way that he expects the other person to return it to him. Jesus does not want the principle of reciprocation to apply among us. He teaches us gratitude in the behavior of the Samaritan.
Several places in Scripture remind us of gratitude. The Apostle St. Paul reminds the Ephesians to guard against all sin, as befits the saints, and instead to give thanks (cf. Eph. 5:4). To the Colossians, he commands, “And be thankful” (Col. 3:15)! St. Paul, not only costs, but we can recognize him as a man of thanksgiving. He writes to the believers in Rome: “Greet Prisca and Aquila… They have set their necks for my life. To them not only am I indebted with thanksgiving” (Rom. 16:3-4).
One might ask: In what does gratitude consist? Indeed, it is not just a momentary emotional thing when someone has shown us service, help, love, or attention, a kind of goodness. It is an inner strength that manifests itself in outward signs. Gratitude is a manifestation of honor, of the inner man. It is the response of inner attitudes displayed by exterior signs.
Jesus points to this fact when he meets the ten lepers whom he heals. The healing occurred on the way, away from him, because he said to them: “Go, show yourselves to the priests” (Lk 17:14). He did not take them aside; he did not touch the sick places; he did not pray over them… Maybe that’s why some of them murmured, but they made their way to the priests because, according to the Law of Moses from the Book of Leviticus (cf. Lv 13:11), they knew that only the priest could declare someone clean, that is, healed, and they could return to their former way of life. Perhaps after hearing about Jesus being a miracle worker, they listened and went. The Evangelist St. Luke noted: “As they went, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14). Why didn’t Jesus heal them right away? He wanted them to share in the healing, to believe in Him. They walked away from him, that is, they thought, but their subsequent behavior became a memento until the end. To God, our gratitude adds nothing to greatness, glory, power, etc. The Apostle St. Paul reminds us in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “But thanks be to God, who always gives us the victory in Christ, and by our means reveals in every place the fragrance of his knowledge” (2 Cor. 2:14). We gain even more in union with Christ when we do his will. The Samaritan recognized that he was healed. He returns to Christ to give thanks for the body’s healing. Jesus’ words: “Arise and walk, your faith has made you well” (Lk 17:19), also speak of the recovery of the soul or the increase of faith.
And gratitude for the increased faith, the healing in faith, deserves our greater attention. Pay attention to your faith. To be grateful to God for the gift of faith.
Johnson Gnanabaraman, in his meditation on this incident of the healing of the ten lepers, reflects in this way. He asks the ten men why they did not return to Jesus and give thanks for their recovery. And these are the answers:
First: I am not ungrateful, but rather, I wanted to show my family and friends that I was well. Then I wanted to thank Jesus, but he had left in the meantime.
Second: I wanted to thank Jesus, but not at the same time as the Samaritan because I am a believing Israelite. But before I could find the messenger, Jesus left.
Third: I wanted not only to give thanks in words but also to bring a gift, but I am poor and found nothing worthy.
Fourth: I had the intention of giving thanks. However, when I showed myself to the priests, I was unsure if my healing was permanent. I know that now, but Jesus is gone.
On the fifth: I almost returned with the Samaritan. To thank him, but there were many around him, and I would have had to confess to them that I was a leper and that he had healed me. I was ashamed, that’s why I didn’t come back.
On the sixth: Actually, I wanted to. I remembered that Jesus had helped others and didn’t expect thanks for it, so I didn’t come back either.
Seventh: I am not ungrateful. With great joy, I forgot. When I remembered, Jesus was gone.
Eighth: There are many lepers in the world. Indeed my honest, moral, exemplary life moved Jesus to heal me. Why should I still give thanks?
Ninth: I know how to give thanks. I wanted to give thanks, but most didn’t go; I didn’t go either. I stick with the majority.
And the Samaritan also asked. And the answer? “I can’t live without breathing. I couldn’t go home until I thanked Jesus.
Which answer is closest to us? Attitudes to gratitude, attitudes, views on gratitude, and especially daily practice speak not only about what kind of people we are but also what kind of Catholic Christians we are. Let us ask ourselves: Doesn’t God deserve our gratitude? For what? For the gift of life, health, sickness, work, hands, eyes, hearing, heart, family, children, vacations… But also for the supernatural gifts, the gift of redemption, the gifts we receive through the sacraments, the Mass, prayer, and acts of Christian mercy.
To King Louis XIV of France are attributed the words which, at the first moment of hearing them, strike one: “When you call someone to office, you make a hundred malcontents and one ingratitude.” A hundred malcontents are understandable. They also desire, wish, like the office, but one ingrate? There is something in it. We may also come across it in our life; you help somebody, he is grateful to you in the beginning, but soon the opposite begins. Does it not happen that the words of the proverb are fulfilled: “For a goodness – for a beggar?”
Today we should be aware of our gratitude to those who, through their love, various services, and help, often at great effort, toil, and personal sacrifice, at the expense not only of their free time but also of their health, have given us values for which they rightly, justifiably deserve an expression of gratitude.
The old teacher was celebrating her eightieth birthday. Children were her life. For them, she did not marry; she forgot her happiness or renounced it… For several decades, she wiped the noses and tears of first graders. Many have forgotten her. What joy she had when grandfathers and mothers, her former children, and pupils came to congratulate her.
Let’s put ourselves in the situation, what does an older adult feel during Christmas when they are supposed to be alone? What joy, how he gives thanks when the neighbors in the entrance, from the street, notice him, even though they are not family, and invite him to the Christmas Eve table.
Life is more joyful when we can be grateful to one another for small acts of service, help, helpfulness… We know that we don’t lose a lot of time doing it; it doesn’t cost much effort, makes others happy, and makes life more pleasant.
Parents who pay attention to gratitude when raising their children prepare a beautiful future for themselves and them.
A many-hearted example from the first reading of the Second Book of Kings is Naaman, who was healed of leprosy by Elisha. When Elisha refuses to accept the gift, Naaman says: “Let me, your servant, take from this land” (2 Kings 5:17). This land will remind him of love. So he wants to show his gratitude.
A souvenir for our gratitude to God. Our involvement in prayer, accessing the sacraments, giving thanks, and making atonement, is gratitude to God. The Christian’s gratitude to God should be as self-evident as the fact that we breathe. If we have forgotten or underestimated our gratitude, now is the time to make things right.
A God-fearing man came before Peter.
“Where do you want to go?” “To heaven, of course.” “Anyone would, but here’s the point system.” “I hadn’t even thought of that. How many points does it take to get into heaven?” “About a thousand.” The man was taken aback by this, but Peter started: “What did you do well on earth?” “I’ve been to Mass every day. That means something.” “Yes, one point.” The guy shuddered. “I was a member of the Holy Rosary, and I prayed my tithe and the whole rosary every day.” Peter again: “Second point.” Sweat rose to the boy’s brow. “I was a member of the Society of St. Vojtech.” “Third point.” “I used to go help with the singing.” ” Fourth point.” “I prayed daily.” “Fifth point.” “Here, only God’s grace will help me, I believed in it, so I tried to be grateful to God daily.” “Do you believe that God is pleased with your gratitude?” “Yes!” Peter smiles, “So you’ve earned enough points, and you can go to the one you feel gratitude to, God.”
Gratitude pays off. This is not just a statement but a human experience; one day, we will see that it is also an essential key to heaven.