Imagine for a moment that you’re walking into a store. There is a person following close behind you, so you decide to hold the door open for them. That person proceeds to walk right through the door without even acknowledging you or thanking you for your kindness. How do you feel in that moment? Do you feel somehow slighted because your act of kindness was not recognized, and was taken for granted?
Jesus seems to experience something similar in today’s Gospel. He heals ten men, but only one returns to thank God for his healing. Jesus seems to be put off by this, wondering where the other nine are. Did they take their healing for granted? Did they think that there was no need to thank Jesus, because he did not ask for thanks, and so often told others to keep quiet about the fact that he had healed them? How would you react if you were in Jesus’ shoes?
Now let’s imagine for a moment that you had a chance to speak to one of the nine lepers who did not return to thank Jesus. What would they say to you? Would they say that they were only doing what Jesus asked them to do? Would they say that they intended to thank him later if they saw him again? Do their reasons sound like excuses that we might make in those moments when we fail to show gratitude in our lives?
The fact that we can so often judge others for their ingratitude, while at the same time excusing our own behaviour in moments where we forget to be grateful, shows us how much of a disconnect exists in our thinking about the importance of gratitude. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul writes: “In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” This means that we need to learn to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our lives, where we learn not just to thank others who have done good deeds to help us, but where we also learn to give thanks to God for the many blessings that he continually bestows on us every day. Living in this way will help us to not take the blessings that we receive for granted.
As we as a nation celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, we pause to give thanks to God for all that he has done for us. We ask him to help us to be always mindful of his blessings, and to always give him thanks for his presence in our lives.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB