REFLECTION FOR TODAY
November 10, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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 17:17–19
Our gospel reference above was Jesus’ conversation with the one leper who returned to thank Jesus. Ten lepers had come to Jesus, standing at a distance, they cried out, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” Out of compassion for their state, Jesus healed them all. There was something different in this healing. While the ten were physically healed, only one came back to thank Jesus. Notice what Jesus said to him: “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you”, indicating the spiritual healing of forgiveness and salvation.
This one leper who came back, did five things to profoundly express his gratitude. He returned, glorified God, did so in a loud voice, fell at the feet of Jesus, and thanked him. What a wonderful witness for us all! As shocking as it may sound, nine of those lepers who were healed did not return to thank Jesus, we don’t know anything about them, but we can assume that their lack of gratitude kept them from being made well on the spiritual level.
Like the other nine, children often take the loving care of their parents for granted. That is why many good parents regularly remind their children to say, “thank you.” In our relationship with God, we can also easily take God’s saving actions for granted. We can easily see all the grace we receive as something we deserve rather than as an infinitely merciful gift. When that happens, we become more like the other nine who failed to properly express their gratitude to Jesus.
As Christians, our expression of gratitude to God is not done because God needs these accolades. He does not depend upon our gratitude to affirm His self-worth. God is God, and He does not need our praise in any way. However, giving profound praise and glory to God is essential because we need this virtue of gratitude to daily be reminded that all we receive from God is an unmerited gift. We cannot earn His love and grace. We do not deserve it. But He chooses to bestow it anyway out of mercy. And the only appropriate response to mercy is gratitude. Profound gratitude.
Gratitude is essential because it is the truth. We should always return to our Lord after He has graced us. We should glorify Him with much fervor, crying out to Him with passion. We should, literally and interiorly, fall on our face before Him, at His feet, and thank Him, over and repeatedly. Doing so will always help us to remember the truth that everything we have and everything we is a gift from God. An unmerited and undeserved gift of grace.
Reflect, today, upon the depth of gratitude in your own heart. Do you often act more like a spoiled and selfish child, or do you regularly perceive the graciousness of God? If you lack in any way this fullness of gratitude, then ponder this one leper. His gratitude, expressed with the fullness of passion, is the most important part of this story. In the end, he was graced far more than the other nine because his healing produced faith; and it was that faith that saved not only his body but his soul. Seek to save your soul by imitating the faith of this one holy and healed leper.
Lord, You bestow Your mercy upon me in superabundance. Without You, Jesus, I have nothing; but with You, I receive everything. May I always know and understand my need for Your grace. And as I am gifted with it, may I respond with the deepest gratitude, thus, saving my soul through faith. Jesus, I trust in You.