The Blessings of Gratitude


Luke 17: 11-19
Wis 6:1-11 / Psa 82

Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?
(Luke 17:17)

The reason why the world’s in strife:
We don’t thank God the way we should;
The secret to a happy life
Is a heart full of gratitude.

As Jesus continued His journey to Jerusalem through Samaria and Galilee, ten lepers met Him in a certain village. Standing at a distance from Him, they called out, “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. Then one of them, realizing that he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice. He fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said, “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.” (Luke 17:11-19)

Reflection

Only one healed of leprosy came back to thank Jesus. The other nine were probably so excited about being freed at last from the scourge of leprosy and being healthy and clean once again that they could hardly wait to tell the good news to their family and friends. In their joy and excitement they forgot to stop and thank the Source of their miraculous healing. Thus, their healing was incomplete. They were healed physically, but only one was healed both physically and spiritually. In their lack of gratitude, the others lost their chance to gain the greater gift of eternal life.

Why is it only one out of ten people live to the ripe old age of ninety or more? The healthy ten percent of the population are those who most likely possess grateful hearts. Not many people are aware of the power of this grace called gratitude. The reciprocal action of a grateful heart can result in exponential returns. Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you said was ‘thank you’, that would be enough.” God would be pleased. “Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” (Thomas Merton)
Another noted writer said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

This is essentially the message that Luke’s Gospel today imparts. God’s generosity is multiplied in a grateful heart. Many people neglect to thank God once they have received what they are praying for. How would you feel if the person who received your favor never even took the trouble to thank you? If we displease God with our ingratitude, don’t be surprised if our blessings are as short-lived as our span of life.

It is the “long-lifers” who seem to be in a state of perpetual joy. From the moment they wake up, they praise and thank the Lord for another day, and keep the blessings of the Lord in mind, even for the little things that most people take for granted. They even thank God for the pains and difficulties, problems and emotional hurts that they encounter, if only because these give them the opportunity to develop the virtues of patience, understanding and forgiveness, as well as to share in the cross of Jesus, drawing them closer to Him. These are the people who are truly blessed. Their wounds heal faster, their lives are happier, and they live longer. Let us learn how to be grateful in everything, for gratitude is the food of our soul, and the vitamin of our faith.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! (Psa 118:28-29) I will bless the Lord at all times; praise shall always be in my mouth. My soul will glory in the Lord that the poor may hear and be glad. Magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt His Name together (Psa.34:2-4). Thank You, Father God, for healing us of the leprosy of ingratitude. Let our hearts be grateful for all Your blessings all the days of our lives, that we may never tire in serving You through others. Amen.

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