Reading: Lk. 17: 17-18
Ten desperate people came to Christ and were cured by him. Yet only one of them came back to thank him. Just imagine, ten lepers had been cured of the most dreaded disease of all – leprosy. Only one of them returned to give thanks, that too a foreigner, the despised Samaritan. So he asks in today’s Gospel: “Where are the other nine? Someone has made a list of nine suggested reasons why the nine did not return:
1. One waited to see if the cure was real.
2. One waited to see if it would last.
3. One said he would see Jesus later.
4. One decided that he had never had leprosy in the first place.
5. One said he would have gotten well anyway.
6. One gave the glory to the priests.
7. One said, “O, well, Jesus didn’t really do anything.”
8. One said, “Any rabbi could have done it.”
9. One said, “I was already much improved.”
Was Jesus pointing out the fact that just one in every ten persons is a grateful person? One of the saddest things in people today is their incapacity to be grateful and to give thanks to God, to the Church, to parents, to teachers, friends, nature and society. People take for granted all that they get and receive.
· In 1939, Sgt. Robert Mac Comack saved the life of his commanding officer, Mayor Harry Parkin, on a battlefield in France. In his thirty-fifth annual letter of thanks Parkin wrote: Dear Robert, I want to thank you for the thirty-five years of life which ordinarily I would not have had were it not for you. I am grateful to you.” My best years of life were after you saved my life.
· A man risked his life by diving into a raging river to save a boy. After the boy recovered, he said to the man, “Thank you for saving my life.” The man put his arm around the boy and said, “That’s okay son! Just make sure your life was worth saving.”
· Mathew Henry, the famous Bible scholar, was once accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse. He wrote these words in his diary: “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, all though they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
· Col 2:7 : ‘Be filled with thanksgiving’.
· Col 3:16 : ‘Sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts’.
· 1 Thes 5:18 : “In all circumstances give thanks”.
· Psalm 69:31 : ‘I will glorify him with thanksgiving.’
· Eph 5:20 : Give thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.’
· Psalm 138:1: ‘I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart.’
· Ps 35:28: I will tell every one of your justice and goodness and I will praise you all day long.
· Luke 17:16: He fell face down on the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done.
· Psalm 138:1 ‘I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart.’
· If you have nothing to be thankful for, make up your mind that there is something wrong with you.
· Thank you Jesus that I can see, hear and walk – when so many are blind, deaf and crippled. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you Jesus that I have food, shelter and friends – when so many are hungry, homeless and lonely.
I know of thousands of people in the worst imaginable situations who have changed their lives completely through gratitude. I know of miracles that have taken place in health where there seemed no hope; failed kidneys regenerate, diseased hearts heal, eyesight is restored, tumors disappear, and bones grow and rebuild themselves. I know of broken relationships that have transformed into magnificent ones through gratitude: failed marriages completely restored, estranged family members reunited, parents transforming relationships with children and teenagers, and teachers transforming students. I have seen people who were in total poverty become wealthy through gratitude; people turned around failing business, and people who had struggled with money all their lives created abundance. Someone even went from living on the streets to having a job and a home in a week. I know of people who were in depression who catapulted into joyful and fulfilling lives through gratitude. People who have suffered from anxiety and every kind of mental illness have restored themselves to perfect mental health through gratitude.
The point is this. Every time you feel grateful you are giving love, and whatever you give, you receive. Whether you’re giving thanks to a person or feeling grateful for a car, a vacation, a sunset, a gift, a new house, or an exciting event, you are giving love for those things, and you will receive back more joy, more health, more money, more amazing experiences, more incredible relationships, more opportunities.
Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientist who ever lived. His discoveries completely changed the way we see the universe. And when asked about his monumental achievements, Einstein spoke only of giving thanks to others. “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” That means at least a hundred times a day, Einstein gave love. Is it any wonder that life revealed so many of its mysteries to Albert Einstein?
When you’re grateful for the things you have, no matter how small they may be, you will receive more of those things. If you’re grateful for the money you have, however little, you will receive more money. If you’re grateful for a relationship, even if it’s not perfect, the relationship will get better. If you’re grateful for the job that you have, even if it’s not your dream job, you will receive better opportunities in your work. Because gratitude is the great multiplier of life!
I used to tell my college students, ‘begin and end each day with genuine thanksgiving to God, Count your many blessings. Name them one by one!’ Even when circumstances are grim, you can always find something to be thankful for. As the popular saying reminds us, “I had the blues because I had no shoes, until upon the street I met a man who had not feet.” “Thank God for your pain,” urges Dr. Paul Brand, who has worked most of his life in leper colonies. Lepers lose all sensation, so they have no pain to warn them, Dr. Brand explains. Their fingers may drop off because they have no pain to alert them to infection. “Pain is always telling you something if you are willing to listen.”
Gratitude is the first sign of grace in a saint. When little Dominic Savio requested Don Bosco to help him to become a saint, he told him to be always cheerful and thankful, to do one’s duties well and to do good to others. But the foundation of sanctity is gratitude, which is the sign of noble souls. Elie Wiesel once said: A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude towards gratitude.
Two farmers were walking down a road and one asked the other, “How are you doing?” The first farmer said, “The ground is hard, the cows are old, the milk isn’t as sweet as it used to be. Everything is just terrible. Life stinks! How are you doing?”
The second farmer replied, “Well, the ground is hard over here too, but I am thankful because I remember when I didn’t have any ground. And this hard ground is much better than no ground at all. My cows aren’t as young as they used to be either, but they are still making milk, and milk is still selling. I don’t have a lot but I do have my health, and I am still able to get up every day and go out and do what I love. I am very thankful. I thank God for everything!”
A list of things I am grateful for:
Thank You for being there for me when I needed you,
Thank You for being the one I could tell anything to,
Thank You for being my crying shoulder,
Thank You for defending me,
Thank You for telling me how much you liked being my friend,
Thank You for understanding me when I felt like no one did,
Thank You for telling me I wasn’t alone,
Thank You for putting up with me
Thank You for wiping away my tears,
Thank You for telling me everything would be okay,
Thank You for complimenting me,
Thank You for opening up to me,
Thank You for making me feel needed,
Thank You for every call, e-mail, letter, note, poem you ever gave me,
Thank You for believing in me,
Thank You for not laughing at my dreams,
Thank You for liking me the way I am,
Thank You for making me feel good or confident,
Thank You for all the times you made me laugh,
Thank You for listening,
Thank You for talking to me,
Thank You for getting me out of trouble,
Thank You for all the times you took the blame,
Thank You for helping me,
Thank You for giving me advice,
Thank You for encouraging me,
Thank You for confiding in me,
Thank You for sticking with me when everyone else left,
Thank You for being the one I could count on,
Thank You for sharing with me some of the happiest moments of my life,
Thank You for forgiving me whenever I hurt you,
Thank You for comforting me when I was scared,
Thank You for missing me,
Thank You for remembering me,
Thank You for standing by me through thick and thin,
Thank You for being my BEST friend,
Thank you Jesus.
Dr (Fr) John Parankimalil
Given on 28.12.2012 at Nairobi University, Kenya