Today’s Gospel is a parable about gratitude.
“Ten men suffering from a virulent skin disease came to meet [Jesus]” intercepting him as he entered the village without any chance of rest. The men stood a distance away as required by the law of Moses (Numbers 5:2), and called out to Jesus – acknowledging Him as their master and seeking His mercy. Jesus’ reply to them was to “go and show [themselves] to the priests”. Similarly, when Naaman approached Elisha to cure his leprosy (2 Kings 5:9-17), he was told to “go and bathe seven times in the Jordan”. In both cases, a trial of obedience, a test of faith, and perseverance in prayer are offered. The men must first go as commanded, prior to receiving any signs of being healed. When we seek the Lord’s favour, we must be able to accept that they will come in His way and in His time.
Do we respond in faith? Or are we like Naaman, harbouring expectations, or an attitude of entitlement, of how we are going to be healed, and thus refusing to follow God’s way?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path” Proverb 3:5
As the men were going away, they were healed. It is in our cooperation with the grace of God that healing occurs. One of the men, finding himself cured, “turned back praising God at the top of his voice”, and prostrated himself at the feet of Jesus, giving thanks that he was cured. Although all ten men were willing to obey (to go to the priest), only one of them was truly thankful for what he had received.
“External religious exercises are easy enough, and common enough; but the internal matter, the drawing out of the heart in thankful love, how scarce a thing it is! Nine obey ritual where only one praises the Lord.” (Spurgeon)
Let us examine our hearts too – in our observations of rituals and traditions like the celebration of the Eucharist, how authentic is our love, praise and thanksgiving of God?
Jesus questioned, “Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they?” Not only does Jesus notice the lack of gratitude, but His question reveals also that ingratitude is very common. Where are the nine men? Once they received what they wanted, it did not occur to them to give thanks where it was due. Similarly, are we as ungrateful?
“Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- To our parents? Consider a time when we were babies – if our parents had neglected us for a week, we would have perished. As our parents age and come to depend more and more on us, do we gratefully accept it as a way to repay the debt we owe them?
Honour your father and your mother, that you may have a long life…” Exodus 20:12
- To our fellow men? There are many who have helped us in unquantifiable ways in our lives – friends, teachers, doctors, surgeons. The great tragedy of humanity is that the more impossible the debt to repay, the less we try to repay it. Are we aware of the debt we owe others?
- To God? Do we turn to God when we desperately need His help, only to forget Him when we have obtained what we want? God gave us life, and His only Son. The least we could do in thanksgiving is to live the life we’ve been given to the full (John 10:10).
Let us be like the man who immediately turned to God to give Him thanks, preventing time from eroding the sense of gratefulness.
“Always be thankful.”
Peace & Love,
Faith and Philip