October 13, 2019 — Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gratitude is the key to a stewardship way of life. Today’s readings demonstrate the power and vital importance of gratitude in the life of the Christian disciple, for gratitude leads us to worship God who offers us salvation.
We see the power of gratitude at work in the response of two individuals in today’s readings who received the gift of physical healing: one in our First Reading, from the book of Second Kings, and the other in our Gospel reading from Luke.
In the First Reading, we hear the story of Namaan, a commander in the army of Syria, who presents himself to the prophet, Elisha, “the man of God,” to ask for healing from his leprosy. The prophet agrees to this request and intercedes on his behalf before God, telling Namaan to wash in the Jordan River. Namaan receives complete healing from the disease.
Overjoyed, Namaan returns to Elisha, filled with gratitude to God and wanting to offer a gift in thanksgiving for his healing. Though Elisha refuses to accept a gift, Naaman declares that for the rest of his life he “will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the Lord.” Namaan recognized the great blessing he had received from the Lord, and as a result of his gratitude to God, is led to worship Him for the rest of his life.
We find a similar instance of healing in the Gospel passage, this one involving 10 lepers seeking healing. They cry out to Jesus in their affliction, and feeling pity for the 10, Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. As they go on their way, all ten are healed.
Yet, what we learn in the very next verse is surprising. “And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned.” Only one of the 10 recognized the tremendous blessing he had received from Jesus and returned to thank Him. It’s easy to feel indignant at the failure of the nine others to return and thank Jesus. But how often do we fail to recognize blessings, great and small, answered prayers, healings (both physical and spiritual) that the Lord showers upon us, day and night?
The truth is that our very lives and every breath we take are His gift to us. But we can get so caught up in the stresses and distractions of daily life that we lose touch with this truth.
Gratitude begins within our minds and hearts when we take the time to recognize how blessed we truly are, and when we have the humility to recognize where these blessings come from — our merciful and loving God.