“Where are the other nine?” A question that never got answered. Therefore we have to use our imaginations. Perhaps they were so happy that they all had a party and wondered what happened to the one who was absent.
Gratitude is learned behavior. Most of us learn to say “Please and
Thank You” from childhood. However, some folks never learn. Parents did not bother to teach them or maybe the parents didn’t know how. The majority of people who are kind to us do not expect anything in return, neither does God. He gives with no strings attached. Yet, Jesus expressed curiosity about why only one, the least expected—the foreigner had retuned to give thanks. Across the centuries billions of favors go unappreciated, unnoticed, unrecognized. God does not punish. He does not take back His grace—the many favors He has granted because we forget to say “Thank You”. Prayers of thanksgiving are not as popular as prayers of petition. Yet, that is what our like is about—giving thanks to God. Our whole life should be spent in thanksgiving because that’s what heaven will be for all eternity. Holy Mass is about thanksgiving. Eucharist is Greek for thanksgiving. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is a thanksgiving prayer to the Father, through the Son with the grace of the Holy Spirit who makes all things possible. The Holy Spirit inspires us to be grateful. He plants the seed, otherwise we would not know how to pray. The Eucharist is also one of the three Sacraments of healing. No one is worthy, we try, but we can never be worthy of so great a gift. Therefore, the more we make peace with our weaknesses, the faster we can allow God’s healing to possess our heart.
The enemy is the sin of pride. We alienate ourselves from the community when we sin. The lepers were ostracized. They could not come near anyone. They had to ring a bell of warning from far away so that others would go in the opposite direction. When Jesus healed them, He restored them to the community. Made them whole again. So the healing was more than physical—it was also spiritual. The lepers were able to return to their families, their work, their synagogue. The same happens to us when we have sinned and come for reconciliation; we are restored—given a new chance at life. Our dignity is renewed—we remember who we are in Christ.
The lepers were smart enough to ask for help. Lots of folks never ask. They stay at a distance, focusing on their unworthiness and never bother to pray. Prayer is the first step to healing, followed by forgiveness. Truth is that we are all lepers, in a sense. All of us have sinned. We need forgiveness—healing. “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” That’s all that we have to do—just open a crack in the door—God does the rest. Doesn’t take much effort. Just remember, gratitude starts at home—trying not to take each other for granted, especially husbands and wives. A word of thanksgiving is not going to hurt anyone. On the contrary—might help our families to grow closer together. We love each other at home, we would give our lives for each other—just sometimes we forget to express our love. Practice—take a chance. Children say thank you to your parents for the roof over your heads, for your clothes, for your faith. Say thank you to the housekeeper, if you have one—the grander, the person who brings the mail. There’s a long list of people who do so much for us. However, God is the main person we should thank—to Him we owe all honor and praise.
Our presence here is our gratitude. We have returned to say, “Thank You.” We recognize that without God’s mercy, we are nothing.