The story of the ten lepers. (Luke 17: 11-19) is a Biblical passage that elicits profound joy. At the same time, there is intense sadness when Jesus heals the ten men afflicted with the terrible, contagious, terminal, and ugly disease of leprosy—a disease that was highly prevalent in the Biblical times before Jesus and during the lifetime of Jesus on earth.
Their overflowing joy flows from the fact that the love, mercy, and compassion of Jesus were made manifest by a mere word when He healed these poor men whom society had ostracized and marginalized. As they headed on their way to the priest, their healing was both immediate and total. Can you imagine their exuberant and overflowing joy—this terrible disease gone in an instant? Still more, imagine the joy of their relatives upon seeing them!
The Intense Sorrow of the Heart of Jesus
Intermingled with the joy of the healed lepers was the surprise and obvious sorrow of Jesus. His words: “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk. 17: 17-18). It is an interesting detail, but of great importance: it was only the foreigner, a Samaritan, who returned, prostrated himself, and profusely thanked Jesus from the depths of his entire being.
Modern World: Losing the Social Virtues
We are living in a world in which the social virtues that are really the condiment of social existence are being lost, most specifically, the virtue of GRATITUDE. If you like, we have lost the cultivation of an Attitude of Gratitude. Two of the key phrases to condiment and embellish social existence are the following: please and thank you. Another two, related to the virtue of humility, would be: I’m sorry and I forgive you.
Wisdom on the Importance of the Attitude of Gratitude
The famous Dominican scholar and mystic, Meister Eckhart, asserted: “If the only prayer we said was THANK YOU, that would be enough.”
In Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth, we read: “More painful than a serpent’s tooth is that of an ungrateful child.”
The Psalmist invites all to render thanks in these words: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.” (Ps 136:1)
The great Apostle to the Gentiles, Saint Paul, stated: “Give thanks to God on all occasions.” (1 Thess 5:18)
The Master, the Lord Jesus Himself, while at the Last Supper, in the context of the institution of the Eucharist, took bread and gave thanks. Not a surprise that the word Eucharist actually means “Thanksgiving”. (Mt 26:26)
Every year, on the fourth Thursday of the month of November, families in the United States come together to share a sumptuous meal, but even more important, the families come together to celebrate one of the most important Holidays and that is Thanksgiving Day. On this day especially, families should recall the abundant gifts they have received from the bounteous hands of a loving and generous God and render copious thanks!
Therefore, it is more than appropriate that we offer a heartfelt hymn of praise and thanksgiving in enumerating reasons and purposes why thanksgiving should flow spontaneously and profusely from our grateful hearts. The list could be endless, but we would invite all to give thanks in ten specific areas where gratitude indeed is merited.
May this humble and brief reflection serve as a springboard to bolster and strengthen your own personal prayer life! “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His mercy endures forever.” (Ps 136:1) May this prayer of the Psalmist resonate in the depths of our hearts!
1. The Gift of Life
Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”(Jn 14:6) He also said: “I have come that you may have life and life in abundance.” (Jn 10:10) One of the greatest gifts that the Author of all life can and has given to us is that of life.
Let us constantly thank God for our life, and use all the gifts that flow from our life to praise and glorify God and save souls! More than 60 million babies have been deprived of life since the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, Jan 22, 1973. We thank our mothers for saying YES to life! Let us promote life!
A suggestion: if possible, view the movie Gosnel. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this movie will motivate you to be more grateful for your gift of life and to be a zealous defender of life from the moment of conception until natural death.
2. Eyes to Contemplate the Beauty of God’s Creation
When was the last time you thanked God for the gift of your eyes, and the wonderful gift of sight, so as to contemplate the beauty of His creation? Imagine that you are a blind person; if you are willing, spend one day with your eyes blind-folded, such that you can see no person, nor any gift of nature.
Undoubtedly, the following day when you wake up and look out at the sun rising, painting the sky with its majestic beauty, you will appreciate the gift of your sight all the more fully.
3. Supernatural Life
Probably most of the readers of this essay have received the extraordinary, unmerited, and gratuitous gift of the Sacrament of Baptism that entails many blessings. Baptism transforms us into sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters to Jesus our older Brother, intimate Friends with the Holy Spirit, and living Tabernacles of the Blessed Trinity.
For this intimate relationship that starts with the Sacrament of Baptism, and the many other spiritual gifts we receive, we lift up our hearts in humble gratitude. Let us strive to live out our Baptismal commitment!
4. Family, Friends, and Social Relationships
None of us can say with absolute sincerity that we have the best of parents, relatives, or friends; nor can we honestly affirm that we have been the best of any of the above. Nonetheless, we should spend time thanking God abundantly for the many persons that He has so generously placed on our path as a bridge to Himself.
If you like the image, let us not be remiss in thanking God for having placed, so to speak, Good Samaritans on the highway of our life leading us to our eternal haven of safety. May our hearts overflow in gratitude for the good people that God has put in our path!
Normally as the years whirl by, our health declines with the passing of the years. As one of my dear relatives used to say with a smirk on his face: “You arrive at a certain age when your body starts to fall apart a piece at a time.” Still, we should thank God for the years of health that He bestowed upon us, the years of health that we were able to enjoy, and our health at present. As the poet expressed so succinctly: “I complained because I had no shoes, until I met someone without any feet.” In other words, every day we bump into people who have less than us in so many respects. Let us thank God for what we have right now!
6. The Most Holy Eucharist
Never will we be able to thank the Good Lord Jesus for having instituted the most sublime Gift of the most Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, which was actually the First Mass. The simple fact that the Church allows all those who have made their First Communion and are in the state of sanctifying grace to receive Holy Communion on a daily basis is glorious.
In the Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, Saint Faustina states that even the angels have a holy envy of us, because they cannot receive the sublime Gift of Holy Communion but we can! The word Eucharist actually means Thanksgiving! “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.” (Ps 136:1)
7. Heaven Awaits Us
Of enormous importance is the firm faith and belief that our life on earth is ephemeral; it is very short. As the Psalmist reminds us: “We are like the flower of the field that rises in the morning and withers and dies as the sun goes down.” (Ps 90:6) But if we persevere in our love for God until the end, then heaven awaits us!
None of us can even imagine the greatness of heaven. Saint Paul expresses this clearly: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9) Life can be tough, but our joy and happiness in heaven is right around the corner, and it is eternal!
8. His Infinite Mercy
As a result of Original Sin, we are all weak and prone to easily fall into sin. The Bible states this clearly: “The just man falls seven times a day.” (Prov 24:16) This should never be a reason to give in to sadness, much less despair. As so beautifully exemplified in the greatest story ever told by the greatest Storyteller, Jesus the Lord, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son or Merciful Father, God’s loving arms and merciful Heart are always open ready to receive us. We just have to say “I’m sorry” and express our sorrow in the context of the Sacrament of Confession. And as the Prophet Isaiah expresses in these most consoling words: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Is 1:18)
9. Friends Who Lend a Hand
We are not living as orphans, as abandoned children, nor are we bereft of help in time of need. Not only is God our Heavenly Father, and Jesus our Elder Brother, but we also have a cloud of witnesses in Heaven who are praying for us, encouraging us, and cheering us on to victory. Of course these are the angels and the saints. Indeed, they are God’s close friends, but they are our friends also!
In any time, place, or circumstance in which we find ourselves, we can call out to these good and faithful friends — the angels and saints — and they will run to our rescue and help us in countless ways. To be Catholic is to live in a family. The Communion of Saints is part of our family fabric and structure!
10. Mary Our Mother: Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope
Our attitude of gratitude would be incomplete if we did not thank God for having given us a heavenly Mother, Mary most holy. Mary is the Mother of God; she is the Mother of the Church, but also, Mary is the Mother of every one of us. She is my Mother and your Mother. She is also, as we pray in the Hail Holy Queen, Our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
Therefore, as we come to the closure of our sharing on cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude, let us beg for the grace to imitate the one leper who ran back to Jesus, prostrated himself before Jesus who healed him, and rendered Jesus abundant thanks! Lord Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you! “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.” (Ps 136:1)