Most of us look up to the Heavens when we are in dire need, the same way King David did.
“There are no atheists in a foxhole” is a well-known aphorism for a reason; it is not difficult to pray when we realize our self-reliance is not enough. And while pleading to our Lord when in need is perfectly acceptable, we are also reminded that we must be firmly aware of all the benefits received from God’s love and mercy toward us.
And yet, many of us forget to look up to God in thanksgiving for all that we receive and for His great care towards us, and that has been true even from the times when Christ Jesus physically roamed the earth.
The stranger, a foreigner that was already ostracized beyond his leprosy for being a Samaritan, had probably not known much mercy in his life. Yet he recognized the miracle for what it was, true compassion, and returned to offer thanks to Jesus. This is not too difficult to understand, for this miracle not only gave the leper back his health but also restored him, acknowledging his dignity as a human being in a land that repudiated him. This was a miracle in many ways, and since this much had been done for the leper, how could he not acknowledge that which also healed his heart? This leper connected the reality of his healing to the gift of love from Christ. Yet ten lepers were healed, and I often stop to think about the other nine.
The nine lepers were probably being obedient to Christ. Jesus sent them to go present themselves to the priests, and I like to think that they did. Christ did not tell them to come back. Technically, the nine did as they were told, so there was no fault there, but did they realize the fullness of what they received? No, I do not think they did. I can imagine they were thankful and quite amazed, considering how lucky they were, yet that was not enough for them to go back in gratitude to find Christ. Does this make us think of what we do ourselves? I sometimes look in the mirror and am sad to see one of the nine. Am I one of those in the foxhole that looks up to God only when I am in trouble? Am I grateful for the graces I receive, or do I attribute them to luck? I know that I can occasionally be dismissive of the gifts I receive, just like one of the nine lepers, yet there are also so many times when I can fully recognize the gift, just like the leper that went back to Christ. We can be very inconsistent in our recognition and acknowledgment.
This inconsistency is not good for us. It is time for us to open our eyes, hearts, and minds to the reality of how dismissive we can be of the graces God bestows upon us. We must strive for awareness and consistently be like the leper who recognized and acknowledged Christ. May we offer God our love, hope, and faith in full thanksgiving.
There is a significant movement in social media to get people to focus on gratitude. There is even a famous TED talk on living with gratitude in our lives from a Catholic monk that is very much worth your time if you can find it. It is possible that we can all receive great benefits from focusing on being grateful. Yet, the reality for a good follower of Christ is that we must be particularly conscious of where our gratitude is going. Our thankfulness is not to the world, the universe, some energy, or any other facsimile, but to God and our brothers and sisters through Him who loves us with all He is. We do not want to be like the nine lepers that did not go further than the minimally required, but instead, let us be like the one leper who saw the truth of God’s grace and ran to acknowledge Christ’s great charity and love.
The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving, gratitude. The source and summit of our faith is thanksgiving, the Eucharist. God with us! Much grace have we received from our communion with Christ Eucharistic, gifts given to us without cost and totally undeserved. Just like the one leper, we are healed, but even more importantly, we are acknowledged and restored in our dignity as sons and daughters of God. Let us be conscious of this and grow ever grateful. Let us look up to the Heavens and give of ourselves back to Him in honest thanksgiving so that we may hear, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Let us pray: