From the Pastor – October 13, 2019

New Orleans Mass Times“Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” (Lk 17:17-19)

This Gospel this weekend concerns gratitude. The story is simple. Jesus cures ten lepers, and only one returns to thank Him. The word gratitude is interesting. It’s usually defined as “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.” And we might experience gratitude for many things. If we’re late for work, we might feel gratitude that we make it through all of the stoplights. We might wake up and see a beautiful sunny day, and feel gratitude. We might experience gratitude for any of the amazing little things that happen to us during the day – a rainbow, a sunset, a butterfly floating through the backyard.

But gratitude comes as a result of human acts, too. We feel gratitude when someone gives us a helping hand with our groceries. We feel gratitude when someone pays us a compliment. We feel gratitude when someone gives us a present. And what is the normal reaction to a feeling of gratitude in a human setting? We do something. We thank a person for their kindness. We might do so simply by saying “thank you.” We might send a thank you note. Or we might reciprocate the kindness by engaging in a kind act toward the person to whom we’re grateful.

One aspect of the Gospel today is interesting. We know that ten lepers were cleansed. Is it doubtful that each of the ten experienced gratitude? I can only imagine that each of the lepers must have been supremely grateful for having been cured from a debilitating and disfiguring disease that had made them outcasts in society. But the issue is that only one returns to give thanks to the person who had cured them. Only one came back to give thanks to God.

We really do our best to thank others when they are kind to us. Why should we act any differently toward God? That’s part of the message that Jesus is getting across to His listeners in this Gospel. It’s an “incarnational” aspect of gratitude. We actually do something to give thanks to God.

I have a little sign over my computer in my office. It is one of those “Simon” signs by the local artist Simon Hardeveld. It says – in big splashy letters – THANK YOU JESUS.

Maybe each of us needs to keep one of those signs somewhere in our lives. It could be in the car, or on a bathroom mirror, or on your desk. And then when we experience gratitude in our lives, we might remember to express our thanks. There are a lot of ways to thank God – the Eucharist is the most eloquent way – but another way is just to say: “Thank you, Jesus.” I promise He will hear.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty