Growing up as a child, one phrase I always heard from my parents and my older siblings whenever I received a gift from them or from other people was, “what do you say?” That usually was a tactical way awakening or reminding me to say, “thank you!”. The expression of gratitude is something a child could learn from the socializing environment, not from nature. The natural disposition of the human person is to grab and go but returning to give thanks is a powerful disposition we need to develop.
We could rightly call today “thank you Sunday” as we encounter the narratives of gratitude in the Readings. In the First Reading (2 Kings 5:14-17), we learn about Naaman, the Syrian army commander who received the healing of his skin infection (leprosy) from God through his prophet Elisha who asked him to plunge himself seven times into the Jordan River. When he was healed with new flesh, like that of a child after the last plunge, Naaman remembered and returned to show gratitude to the prophet Elisha.
In the Gospel Reading (Luke 17:11-19), we hear the story of the cure of the ten lepers consisting of nine Jews and a Samaritan who eventually returned to give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice the connections between the First Reading and the Gospel. Both talk about leprosy, a very deadly affliction at the time. In the First Reading, Naaman goes to Samaria to get healing from the prophet, and in the Gospel, a Samaritan leper goes to Jesus Christ around the region of Judea and gets his healing.
Remembering and Returning
Remembering involves an active recollection of someone or an event on account of what happened in the past. Remembering is the opposite of forgetting which is the inability to bring to one’s mind an event or person in the past. With the way our mind works, we often remember the hurts we get more than helps we receive; we are quick to complain than we are to compliment; we tend to condemn more than we commend.
Remembering is very essential in our relationship with God. In fact, God encourages us to remember Him (Deut. 8:18a; Neh.4:14b) as He is always mindful of us (Psalm 115:12). It is impossible to genuinely worship God without the conscious and intentional act of remembering (Psalm 77:11-12). Remembering moves us to pray, praise, and penitence. In the parable of the prodigal son, the point of repentance was the moment he came to his senses, in other words, when he remembered the love of his father and what he lost by being in a distant country (Luke 15:17).
Remembering would be incomplete if there is no action of returning to the source. God is continually asking us to return to Him, and He would return to us (Zech. 1:3) In the First Reading and the Gospel, we see Naaman and the Samaritan leper not only remembering but also returning to give thanks to the sources of their cure. Coming out from the Jordan with fresh skin, Naaman had the option to leave immediately to his home but remembered and returned to give thanks to Elisha.
The situation is even more dramatic in the Gospel Reading. The passage tells us that following the supplications of the ten lepers, our Lord sends them to go and show themselves to the priests. However, healing comes upon them while they were on their way, but only one of them, the Samaritan, could remember how their healing came to be and returned to give thanks.
Moving Forward with the Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude could be a positive attitude if we desire to cultivate it. Gratitude means being at peace with ourselves and others for what we have and being aware that whatever we have is a gift; we literally own nothing. Often, we are so overwhelmed, and we worry about what we do not have, and we forget (not remembering) to be thankful for what we have. Sometimes, the worry about what we do not have may make us lose what we have.
The attitude of gratitude would help us to be grateful FOR everything we get and to be thankful IN every situation, which may not be very good for us. Indeed, life may not be fair at various moments in our lives, but we still have a lot more to move us to gratitude. Pause and consciously make a list of what you have, and you will discover that you urgently need to say to God:
Thank you for my life
Thank you for my health
Thank you for my job
Thank you for my family
Thank you for my friends
Thank you for my children
Thank you for my spouse
Thank you for the food and water
Thank you for the air
Thank you for the sun
Thank you for a new day
Thank you for new opportunities
Thank you for another chance
Thank you for grace
Thank you for this message
Gratitude is a door to more blessings and a secret to success; make it an attitude. The difference between gratitude and attitude is the “GR,” and it means the Golden Rule, “treat others as you would want to be treated.” If you want more reason to be grateful, then show gratitude to God and to others.
Be grateful in and for everything. Have a gratitude-filled Sunday. Thank God, and thank you.