Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thank You, Lord

November 10, 2010
Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, pope

By Colleen O’Sullivan

But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance form him and raised their voice, saying, “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. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “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)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage. You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. (Psalm 23)

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is traveling through Samaria and Galilee on his way to Jerusalem. As he enters one of the villages on his route, ten lepers call out to him from a distance. “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” You see, they were the outcasts of their day. People were afraid of lepers, afraid of contracting the disease from them, so lepers were condemned to live on the margins of society. They had only each other for company, because they were forbidden other human contact. No one else would help them, so they decided to take their chances on Jesus. Perhaps they had heard about his healing powers. Maybe they had just seen from afar the crowds surrounding the Lord and decided to see what he could do for them.

Jesus hears and sees them on the outskirts of the crowd. In response to their cries, he tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. All ten of them, Luke tells us, are cleansed as they turned to follow Jesus’ command, but only one of them, a Samaritan, realizes the great gift Jesus has just given him. He returns to Jesus, falls at his feet and thanks him. In response, Jesus bestows on him a far greater gift than mere physical healing; he tells the man to stand up and go. “…Your faith has saved you.”

Among the first words that parents strive to teach their children are “please” and “thank you.” When someone gives you something, you should say “thank you.” As Paul reminds all of us in his letter to his friend in the faith, Titus, “…when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

What greater gift could a person hope for? What greater reason to fall on my knees and thank the Lord! But how often I’m like those other nine lepers rolled into one! I take it all for granted. I get busy with whatever I’m doing and forget to thank God for the many blessings he bestows on me every day. Lord, forgive me my indifference.

Or something negative happens and I start to complain, forgetting all the good things God is responsible for in my life. Lord, forgive me for the rapidity with which I let one cloud overshadow the gift of your infinite mercy and kindness.

Most days I make time to pray using the Irish Jesuits’ website, Sacred Space. It doesn’t take long and one of the things I like most about it is the invitation to look back over the previous 24 hours and recall those moments that I am grateful for and to thank God for those gifts.

When you do that day after day, you realize how blessed you truly are. Try praying with Sacred Space for a few days and see if you don’t find that to be true as well. (www.sacredspace.ie )

“No one can be grateful and unhappy.” (“The Secret” from Seedlings in Wellsprings by Anthony de Mello, S.J.)