11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
Here in the USA, it is Thanksgiving, the day we set aside for…well, giving thanks for all we have in our lives…
As I have been mulling over what to write for today, I have been thinking of the song “Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3” by Ian Drury and the Blockheads, which recites a multitude of every day reasons to be cheerful and happy about life.
However, in the midst of our busy and often tumultuous lives, it can be easy for us to forget that there are many more reasons to be cheerful than there are to be in fear or despair; more reasons for gratitude that there are for anger and frustration!
Instead I can find myself focusing on what I do not have…or what I have lost, rather than being grateful for all that I have!
I can often find myself frustrated over my recent (and very personal) financial collapse, not being able to pay all my bills, and working at a job that I am over-qualified for…I can become upset over having an old car with 170k miles (when I used to be able to buy new ones every few years), I can be sad that I can no longer afford a vacation trip, of even be able to treat my significant other to a move…I can complain about the worry I have gone through over my daughter, how I feel as if I have fallen short as a father, and have fear for the future…and I can complain, complain and complain about all that I have lost, and opportunities I have missed…and so on…
But all this complaining can hide the truth from us…that we do have many reasons to be cheerful: I have a job (even if it is not what I would like it to be) that has allowed me to keep my house and to supply that house with power and water, this job also gave me health insurance which has proven to be very valuable over the last year! I can be grateful that I have a significant other to share my life with, glad that my daughter is still a big part of my life, and that we were able to share so many trips and good times together!
I am also very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a single father…and to be forgiven when I make mistakes…as well as the ability to learn from them!
And then there is my long-term sobriety, which has lead me back to my faith in God, and has given me the resources to meet any challenge…in both other people and in being able to see the presence of God’s love right here where we are: in the midst of our lives!
Forgetting to be grateful is understandable, as often the negative is louder than the positive in our lives…or sometimes we are just too busy moving on to the next crisis to solve….
In this way we are kind of like the Lepers in today’s Gospel story: maybe they were not so much ungrateful as just too busy worrying about “…what to do now” to come back and thank Jesus; after all they made their living as beggars, but now that they were healed they would have to find some other source of income. Perhaps the Lepers could not really appreciate the ‘miracle’…because they were thinking too much of all they had lost due to their disease and were just not all feeling all that grateful for having been Lepers in the first place!
Just like we can often lose sight of great gift of our children, when caught up in the day to day stress and worry of raising them, when it can feel as if we are facing crisis after crisis with no relief in sight.
But there is good news: as gratitude is something we can practice, we don’t need to get it perfectly! The good news is that God does not surround us with healing grace only to receive our praise, just as we do not care for our children seeking only to receive their thanks, but we do it out of our great love for them!
So too is God’s grace given freely, through Christ, as a great gift of His love for us!
As recipients of this gift, we are made well-loved children of God; and while we do not HAVE to say come back and say “thank you” to keep this gift, as followers of Christ we are called to show gratitude for all we have been given, not only by giving God thanks and praise, but also by sharing these gifts of love with the our world…and with our children; for wherever the light of this grace is shared, where there is gratitude, there is forgiveness, reconciliation and hope…as this light leads us towards that great Day of the Lord, when the Kingdom of God will become a reality in our world and I the lives of our children!
And this is a reason to give the Lord thanksgiving today and every day!
Let us Pray:
God, thank you for the many gifts of love you have given to us. Help us not to lose sight of all that we have to be cheerful for today, and every day…remembering that much of what we complain about are actually things to be grateful for: a home, a relationship, a job, our children and our strong sense of commitment to them. Please let us put aside our frustrations and our busy-ness long enough to remember to thank you, and to share your love with thankful hearts…letting your light shine brightly in the darkness, giving us hope that frees us from fears and helps us to know true gratitude, which we can then share with our children and each other.