How do we show our thanks to others for what we receive or are given? Has there ever been a time when you were so taken by what you have received or with your life that you simply moved on and did not think to show or offer words of thanksgiving?
Both the first and gospel readings record the gratitude of a leper that has been healed. Their praise and thanksgiving for the healing they receive teaches us something about the transformational nature of giving thanks. Fr. John Foley reflects that Jesus offers a soul-cure as well as a bodily one. He offers them not only a cure from leprosy, but a cure from the isolation of their lives and an opportunity for relationship rather than marginalization. That is a life changing/soul healing cure. Thus, Jesus asks where the other nine who did not return to give their thanks are.
When we come to Mass, we enter into an opportunity to say thanks to God. The word Eucharist is the Greek word for Thanksgiving. Every time we come to Mass, we are entering an opportunity to open our hearts in thanksgiving to God. We enter into an opportunity to show our gratitude to God for his life giving, soul saving action in Jesus. That saving action is not only something that happened two thousand years ago. That transforming, saving action becomes real and present again, every time a Mass takes place in the Eucharist that is offered to us.
Like the thankful lepers, we need to tune into God’s activity in our lives. We need to notice those places where the gift of God’s grace is active and be grateful for it. It is in our thanksgiving that we realize our dependence on God. Through it, we become aware of our own limits and how what we have been given, supplies things that we cannot provide for ourselves. Our thanks responds to the gift by confirming the generosity of the giver.
It is for this reason that Jesus says to the one leper “your faith has saved you.” In his response, Jesus notes the saving grace of the acknowledgement of that thanks. In that act of gratitude that leper has acknowledged the source of his healing. His thanksgiving shows an openness of heart and a realization of the need for Jesus’ action in his life which allows a transformation to occur by way of that gratitude. His thanksgiving confirms God’s action in his life through Jesus’ act of healing.
And so we can ask ourselves, How can we grow in our awareness of all that has been given to us? Do realize our limits and our dependence on God’s saving action in our lives? Can we slow down enough to enter into the holiness of giving our thanks for God’s healing soul-saving grace, and confirm God’s action in our lives?