At the end of Saint John’s Gospel, we are told that if everything Jesus Christ did
during His 33 years of earthly life were written down, the entire world could not contain the books. Many of Christ’s miracles and encounters were not recorded in the New Testament. This Sunday, however, we hear about a miracle where Jesus teaches us the value of gratitude (Luke 17:11-19) – the one healed leper who returned to thank Jesus is praised for his gratitude, while Jesus notes the lack of gratitude in the other nine who were also healed.
Why does Christ value gratitude so much? Because He made it valuable. Gratitude
is a virtue and therefore it’s valuable for us, for the health of our souls. Gratitude keeps
us faithful and grounded in the Truth, which is essential for our ongoing relationship
with God. To be ungrateful to God is not only unjust, it’s living an illusion. The fact
is that everything good that we have is a gift from God: life; faith; hope; love; family;
friends; God’s Church, Word and Sacraments, His creation, His Holy Spirit with His
gifts and fruits, His grace that helps us persevere to do what is right and to follow Jesus to our purpose in life, Heaven; and our gifts, talents and opportunities. Gratitude is also an antidote to sin – sin turns us in on ourselves, with selfishness and pride, while
gratitude opens our hearts to God and neighbor – being grateful directly contradicts
selfishness, as gratitude reminds us that our very life is a gift from God. Gratitude builds bridges, unites communities, softens hearts, and counteracts depression and anxiety.
We can live the virtue of gratitude every day, with “thanks be to God” our daily prayer.
Gratitude gives strength to man’s heart (Hebrews 13:9) and keeps us focused on God’s goodness to us, His love for us. Being grateful reminds us that we are loved – the source of lasting joy in this difficult world. When we neglect being grateful, we start focusing on ourselves, our achievements and material things – yet none of them can satisfy the fundamental need of our soul: to be loved and to love. For many of us, when we find ourselves becoming bitter, angry, frustrated, stressed or depressed, it’s often because we’ve stopped being grateful. That’s when we need to look to God and His love, and be grateful again to Him for all the blessings in our life.
Being grateful changes us: the virtue of gratitude helps us experience the joy that
comes from knowing that God loves us infinitely well. It is such an important virtue
that God put it at the heart of Christian worship: the Mass, the celebration of the
Eucharist. The word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek Eucharistein, to give thanks.
At Mass, we praise, love, adore, thank and worship God, thanking Him for the gift of
the Eucharist, the gift of Jesus Christ Himself, His true, real and substantial presence.
And we are changed forever.
With peace and prayers in Christ,