Being Grateful

Sunday readings in Brieg 28 C

2 Kng 5:14-17; Ps 97(98); 2 Tim 2:8-13; Lk 17:11-19

Being grateful

Dear friends today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We have only 6 weeks left in this season before the close of the liturgical year. Jesus continues to instruct us on the conduct that is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. Though we can draw more than one theme from today’s readings, I would like to focus on the theme of “being Grateful”.

Being grateful is a moral value present in many cultures of the world if not in all of them. When someone does or gives something good to the other, it is expected that the one who receives shows gratefulness. How to show gratefulness may vary from one culture to another. Some may just say thank you verbally while others offer gifts to show their appreciation. In the Maasai culture every act of kindness however small it may be is greeted with “Ashe”, Thank you.

In the first reading, we hear how Naaman, the commander of the Syrian Army, came back to Israel to thank the Prophet Elisha for curing him of leprosy. Naaman had brought with him gold and expensive linen and a letter from the king to seek healing. Elisha refused even to go out to meet him and sent his servant to tell Naaman to go and wash seven times in the Jordan. Though Naaman had turned away angry with the prophet, his servant urged him to wash, and by doing so he was healed. Elisha refused to receive the gift because God’s mercy cannot be bought. However, today, we have a boom in the business of buying and selling miracles that the merchants attribute to God. Many have been deceived and swindled of their earnings by unscrupulous modern prophets and fake miracle workers.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is amazed at the gratefulness of the Samaritan who came back to say thank you after he and his nine Jewish colleagues had been cured of leprosy. Leprosy was a very bad illness that made those who contracted it banished from the community.  The other nine who were Jews never came back to say thank you. Just like in the parable of the “Good Samaritan”, Jesus uses the “Grateful Samaritan” to expose the attitude that had entered many Jews of his time. Because of their privilege as the “Chosen People”, many Jews regarded themselves as superior to other nations, especially Samaritans who had mixed themselves with people of non-Jewish descent. It is because of this attitude that they even refused to accept Jesus as the promised Messiah and went on to hang him on the cross as a fraudster. Faith is a gift given to us by God and not our personal achievement. God gives us his gifts not because of something good in us but rather because of his everlasting Goodness.

Today we see the same attitude in many Christians who think of themselves as superior to others. This lack of humility and gratefulness denies us God’s blessings. The fundamental Christian values are LOVE, HUMILITY, FORGIVENESS, and  GRATEFULNESS. Nevertheless, I have seen these values more conspicuous in many non-Christians and a significant deficit of the same among many baptized Christians.

Because of his faith and gratefulness, the Samaritan had his sins forgiven on top of being cured of his leprosy. The nine Jews got only cured of their physical leprosy but remained with their spiritual leprosy. Today we have many baptized but not so many true followers of Christ. Today, it is possible for people to be “saved” but not “converted” Christians. Many say they have accepted Jesus as their personal saviour but their lives demonstrated the contrary. Conversion of attitude and conduct has to come before salvation. The wish-wash gospel of people being saved emotionally and never getting to be converted can be witnessed in marriages, religious life, public service, and so on. There is a big commitment deficit in the way we live our vocations and careers.

Dear friends, we reflect on the value of “Gratefulness” I invite all of us to introspect and see if we are true converts of what we believe or if we are just emotionally charged and have nothing deep in the way we live our vocations.

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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