2kgs 5:14-17; 2Tm 2:8-13; Lk 17:11-19
“If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
The message that God offers to us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, is this: God’s faithfulness to us does not depend on our own faithfulness to Him. St. Paul captures this message in these words to Timothy: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead…If we are unfaithful He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”(2Tim 2:13)
Because God is always faithful to us, even when we are unfaithful, He always wants to give us many blessings. The question is not His willingness or His ability to give, but our ability to receive from Him. Are we properly disposed to receive from Him all that He wills to give to us?
There are two ways of disposing ourselves to receive God’s abundant blessings.
The first way is to pray, asking God for all that we need with trust and confidence in His love and mercy. Jesus asks us to do just that first, “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7-11). Only those who humbly persevere in prayer will receive gifts from Him.
All the ten lepers in Lk 17:11-19 united their voices in asking Jesus for healing mercy, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us.” They were not hindered by their leprosy or what others may think of them. They asked boldly and Jesus healed them all.
The second way to place ourselves in a position to receive from God is to be truly grateful for all that we have received from God. We say, “Thank you, Lord,” for everything because everything is a gift from God. We thank Him for every second of our lives, our families, our health, achievements, talents, life, faith, jobs, good and holy desires, resolutions, etc.
However, our gratitude to God cannot be in words alone. God shows His love for us in actions and we too must show our gratitude through actions and not in words alone. The healed Samaritan showed his gratitude through his actions first. He makes use of all His being in thanksgiving, “He returned, glorifying God with a loud voice, he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him.”
His gratitude in action brought him more blessings. By thanking God for his physical healing, he also received a spiritual gift of saving faith and hope-filled affirmation from Jesus, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Imagine the enduring impact of Jesus’ affirming words on this man’s life.
We too must show our gratitude to God not by words alone but by actions. These are some examples of how our entire lives can be an act of unceasing gratitude to God.
Firstly, we show our gratitude by repenting from our sins and turning back to God. The cleansed Samaritan “returned to Jesus,” abandoning his plans and agendas of reuniting with his previously estranged family and friends. He returned to Jesus, a Jew, even though he was a Samaritan, a hated enemy of the Jews.
Jesus once had very strong words of condemnation for certain cities that experienced His blessings and miracles but did not repent out of gratitude to Him, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.”(Mt 11:21-22) These cities closed themselves to His saving grace by receiving His gifts but failing to repent out of gratitude to Him.
We too must show our gratitude to God by constantly returning to God and abandoning our sinful and selfish choices. In gratitude to God, we never get tired of confessing our sins and beginning again our relationship with God with greater trust and love for God. This constant returning to God in true repentance brings joy to all of heaven, “There is so much joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance”(Lk 15:7).
Secondly, we show our gratitude by worshipping God alone. Naaman, the Syrian general, expresses his gratitude to God for being healed of his leprosy by abandoning his pagan idols and worshipping the true God alone. He said to Elisha, “Please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth, for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the Lord.”
We too show our gratitude to God by abandoning all our idols and false gods. These idols are the creatures that we think we must have, or that we must have more of to be ourselves. Truly grateful souls allow God to purify them of their attachment and dependence on these idols, whether it is money, pleasure, sex, relationships, comfort, fame, success, appreciation, approval, etc.
Thirdly, we show our gratitude by listening more attentively to God and striving to obey Him more generously. We begin to let go of our own wills and agendas and seek to embrace the will of God in our prayer. We receive what we should ask for only when we pray in accordance with the will of God and not according to our passions alone. In the words of St. James, “You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:2-3).
Listening and obeying God in gratitude allows us to use everything we have to serve God and others always. Truly grateful souls labor to bring other souls to Christ, like St. Paul, who shows his gratitude by serving Jesus to the very end of his life, “Such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal.” This grateful soul serves others even to the point of suffering and pain.
Lastly, we show our gratitude by cultivating a greater and complete trust in God in all things. Truly grateful souls know that God will not cease giving them the blessings that they need in life. Thus, they are not slaves to fears and anxieties.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our ever-faithful God wants to give us many blessings – peace, health, joy, strength, etc. But we usually lack the disposition to receive them because of our inappropriate approach to prayer and our lack of gratitude in action.
In each Eucharist, God again offers us the gift of His very self. The Eucharist is God’s greatest gift and the source of all other gifts. What then will He refuse us if He is ready to offer us Himself in Holy Communion?
But the Eucharist is not just an act of thanksgiving to God for His gifts to us. The Eucharist is also an opportunity for us to share in the very same thanksgiving of Jesus to the Father for our sake. In and through the Eucharist, we too can offer ourselves to God in constant thanksgiving for His blessings.
Because of our union with Christ in the Eucharist, we can ask for all that we need with that confidence in God that befits His beloved children. We can also be truly grateful to God for all that we have received and show that gratitude through appropriate action. This is how we dispose ourselves to receive and enjoy the abundant gifts of our ever-faithful God in this life and in the life to come.
Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!
Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash