An Attitudinal Imperative

     And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
     And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
     And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
     And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
     And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

     [Luke 17:11-19]

     What I find fascinating about this passage is that Jesus doesn’t retract His gift of healing to the other nine lepers. He notes their absence, but goes no further. Moreover, He commends the grateful one for his faith rather than for his expression of gratitude. In doing so He observes that the grateful one is “a stranger:” a Samaritan, a people with whom the Jews did not have warm relations at that time.

     Regard this episode in the light of these others: the Roman centurion He met in Capernaum:

     And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
     And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
     The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
     When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
     And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

     [Matthew 8:5-13]

     …and the Canaanite woman who begged Him to heal her daughter:

     And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
     But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
     But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
     Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
     But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
     And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
     Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

     [Matthew 15:22-28]

     The Pharisees and Saducees, the “religious snobs” of the day, exhibited a dogmatic certainty that they knew the Law. This Johnny-come-lately of a street preacher had nothing to teach them. Nor did they show gratitude for His teachings even when they recognized the truth in them. Jesus was less than friendly toward them. He displayed great warmth toward those who, not being Jews, had no particular reason to honor a Jew who came among them…yet did honor Him and praise God for Him.

     Gratitude is not the same as faith. It is a consequence of sincere faith. For sincere faith recognizes the love of God for His creatures. Such a love irresistibly inspires gratitude; the reaction is automatic.

     Gratitude, as I’ve said before, is the secret to happiness.

     Ponder the connections for a moment. Then have a look at this essay by Michael Pakaluk:

     [I]n this year of renewal of Eucharistic Devotion I like to think that another lesson is: how easy it is to give thanks. Simply go to Our Lord and say thank you. In human terms, one might have thought the healed leper was bound, say, to lifelong servitude to Our Lord for the favor done; or dedicating his life to helping lepers. But apparently it was enough for him simply to find Our Lord and thank him – “It is mercy I desire not sacrifice.”

     Have you wondered why we have tabernacles in our churches at all? They are not there by accident. What is their purpose? Yes, they are Our Lord’s answer to the plea at Emmaus, mane nobiscum, Domine, “remain with us, Lord” as St. Pope John Paul II taught. But, presumably, they have some purpose other than being a focal point of devotion during Mass.

     That request by the Apostles that He not leave them is answered in the Eucharist.

     I know that many Protestants differ with us Catholics about the nature of the Eucharist. As it is possible to disbelieve anything not readily reproducible before witnesses, it is possible to disbelieve in Transubstantiation despite the various reports of Eucharistic miracles, simply by rejecting such reports as mistaken…or fraudulent. But regardless of which Eucharistic doctrine you prefer, the origin of this gift, the Last Supper, makes plain His intentions:

     And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. [Matthew 26:26-28]

     And that intention is reinforced as He prepares to leave this world:

     Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Matthew 28:20]

     Surely that is reason enough to be grateful.

     May God bless and keep you all.

1 comment

  1. I agree about gratitude. It’s something that the more comfortably situated often neglect. In America, we have been blessed with a level of general prosperity and freedom that few in the rest of the world can reach.

    That we’ve lost some of both wealth and freedom is important, and should be resisted. But, privately, we need to remember to Thank Him for what we continue to enjoy, as well as for His many blessings we’ve received – none of which we truly deserve.

    I once heard someone refer to being born in America as “hitting the genetic lottery”. Through no effort on our part, and by the happenstance of being born within the limits of the USA, we were given a leg up from birth.

    What we do with it after is our opportunity – and, should we waste it, our curse.

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