The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 17:12-19
In today’s short gospel reading we are told about ten lepers who met the Lord Jesus. Lepers, those afflicted with leprosy were usually found together in groups because they had been isolated and ostracized from the rest of the healthy population.
By this time the Lord Jesus’ fame had spread and these ten lepers began to cry out to Him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When the Lord looked at them He said “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” When someone had an impurity or illness such as leprosy one had to be examined by a priest and rendered clean according to their judgment. So the Lord tells them to go and see priests. It seems that as they left Jesus they were healed! That is a big deal.
Let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes. Lepers were not only considered sick, they were considered unclean. Leprosy wasn’t simply an illness, it was something of a death sentence. People had to leave their homes, their jobs, their families and friends. Life was over as they knew it. So imagine what excitement and electricity came over that group of ten as they were healed while going to see the priests. They were probably yelling and cheering and hugging and singing and running to see the priests and be declared clean once more. They had received their lives back! They had received all of their hopes and dreams because of this miracle. But something else amazing happens at that moment. One of the lepers decides to return and see Jesus. Why? What was the difference between this one and the other nine?
First, we are told that this man was a foreigner. He wasn’t a Jew but a Samaritan. The second difference with this man was his gratitude. Our attitude depends on our gratitude. We are all a bit like the 9 lepers who begged God for help. At times each of us has fallen to our knees and pleaded and cried for God to listen to us and accept our prayers. Often God will give us exactly what we have prayed for. Do we notice?
The 9 lepers behaved a bit like spoiled children. They begged, they got what they wanted and they went about their business. They simply moved on with their lives as if nothing extraordinary had just happened. I wonder how often we behave similarly toward God? I know that I have certainly done it in the past. That sort of attitude is a delusion. God doesn’t exist to serve us and to make our desires come true. We exist to serve God and to make God our goal and our desire.
God loves us and showers us with so many gifts. How often do we fall to our knees to thank Him for what He has done in our lives. I suspect that if we had any idea how blessed we were, we would simply spend our whole day thanking and praising God for His mercy towards us. This 1 leper proved do be much more faithful than the 9 others. If this story were told today we might say that the Protestant Christian came back to offer thanks to Christ while the 9 Orthodox Christians took Him for granted or forgot Him completely.
How do we fix this picture? We start by taking a daily account of all the good things that God has done in our lives. Whenever anything good happens in our lives it is wrong to attribute it to good luck or even to my own skill and intelligence. Everything in life is meant to be referred back to Christ. The Samaritan leper knew that Jesus Christ was the source of all the good things that were now happening to him. He saw his life for what it was, a complete gift from God. Do you see your life as a complete gift from God? If so, how do you show your gratitude for this amazing gift?
Let me suggest doing exactly what this leper did. He fell on his knees and gave thanks and glorified God. It might seem like a small insignificant detail, but it pleased the Lord Jesus Christ when the Samaritan fell to his knees. It would please Him if we fell to our knees in gratitude every once in a while. Spend time with the Lord and thank Him from the bottom of your heart. That isn’t just a way to please God, it’s also a way to train your heart and your mind to constantly refer everything back to Him. May God help us to cultivate this attitude of gratitude.
Glory be to God forever AMEN.
How do you show your gratitude to God? Please leave comments below!