Gratitude. Gratefulness. Thankfulness. These words identify the theme put forth in our first reading and Gospel this weekend. Truly a most noble, worthy and life-giving contemplation for each of us.
Let us start with what is gratitude. Robert Emmons, Ph.D., who is identified as the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, says there are two key components to gratitude. First, “an affirmation of goodness,” that is, we recognize that we receive good things, gifts and benefits, in the world. Second, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves…” Impressive insights from the world of science touching upon the effects of natural law (creation) and corresponding to God’s revelation in Sacred Scripture.
In our first reading, the prophet Elisha has invoked the Lord God for the cure of the Syrian leper, Naaman. Naaman is grateful and thankful for this miracle and requests to take back to Syria with him earth from the land of the God who cured him. This is a sign of his becoming a believer in Yahweh, the Lord God.
In the Gospel, ten lepers call out to Jesus. They cannot approach too closely for leprosy was so feared that lepers had to live apart and keep their distance. Jesus sends them to the Temple priests and on the way, they are cured. One alone returns to give thanks, to offer gratitude and he is a Samaritan, a foreigner. We can only speculate why the other nine did not give thanks. But certainly, both Naaman and this Samaritan show forth the components of gratitude ~ affirmation of goodness with sources outside of ourselves.
Of course, the roots of ‘goodness with sources outside of ourselves’ goes all the way back to creation itself. It is creation and the gift of life which our loving Creator, our heavenly Father, bestows on each of us as He brings us into this created world. In Jesus Christ, the goodness outside of ourselves is made manifest in the gift of redemption, salvation ~ the re-creation of the world and of human beings with the forgiveness of sin by the Blood of Jesus on the Cross. Saint Paul reminds us that this is good news, worthy of gratitude and gratefulness ~ Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Proof positive of God’s care, compassion, love and healing for each of us. How grateful must our hearts be! Even in chains and in prison, Paul never stopped praising God for His goodness and His mercy.
How necessary for us to imitate Paul and to make our own the revelation of Scripture and the affirmation of science. Gratefulness leads us to not only appreciation but generosity as well, helping us to imitate God in our own ordinary lives. When we recognize and are grateful for the gifts we have and are receiving from the hand of God, we are strengthened to share generously with others in every area of life ~ our time, talent and treasure.
We are people who see the glass half full. We affirm that even in darkness the light of Christ shines on to guide and help us. We trust and remain confident in God’s providence and power, surrendering our will to His, rather than trust in our own or others abilities in this world. And, we constantly rejoice and sing gratefully of the Lord’s wonderous deeds because of His faithfulness and kindness to us! May God bless and protect us always in becoming more passionately His disciples in this moment of time and in this place!
God bless you, God love you,