Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 12 KGS 5:14-17
Responsorial PsalmPS 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
- (cf. 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Reading 22 TM 2:8-13
Alleluia1 THESS 5:18
- Alleluia, alleluia.
In all circumstances, give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 17:11-19
8-9 October 2016 Gratitude
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus cured 10 people with leprosy. Today we know that leprosy is caused by bacteria and can be cured by antibiotics. In Biblical times, Jews diagnosed with leprosy were forced to live outside the camp to prevent the spread of the disease. If you had a scaly infection that didn’t heal, the priest would declare you unclean and you may spend the rest of your life away from your family living with other lepers.
When Jesus cured the 10 lepers, this was a life changing event for all of them but only 1 came back to thank Him. We don’t know why the other 9 did not show their gratitude, but this story brings up 2 questions for us:
- Why is difficult to be grateful?
- How can we be more grateful for the blessings in our lives?
I don’t believe that gratitude comes naturally for everyone. If we are taught to say “please” and “thank you” as children, we learn the language of gratitude but that is only part of it. Saying “thank you” with spoken or written words require an extra effort. Making that effort is important but people usually know if we are being sincere.
Being sincerely grateful requires us to acknowledge our need for others. When we are grateful, we admit that we are dependent on help from other people. It can be tempting to let our pride and ego get in the way. Pride can prevent us from recognizing our need for help and when it is offered, pride can make us ungrateful or resentful.
Being sincerely grateful requires the right perspective. If children are spoiled by continuously giving them whatever they ask for, they may develop an attitude of entitlement. It will be difficult for them to be grateful because of their expectations. They may not be able to appreciate the people or the blessings in their lives because they take them for granted.
We’ve talked about the challenges in being grateful, so now let’s talk about what we can do each day to help us recognize the blessings in our lives.
One of the most important things we can do to recognize these blessings is to actively look for them each day. When we get busy or distracted it’s easy to miss them: a beautiful sunset, a blooming flower, or a smiling baby. If we open our eyes to our surroundings we may stop to smell the roses more often.
Sometimes our blessings are in disguise. When hardship or tragedy comes into our lives, counting our blessings is the last thing we feel like doing. Sometimes we have to look hard for a long time see the silver lining in the dark clouds surrounding us. God is the master of making lemonade out of lemons. If we are open to His plan for us, He will bless us with the faith and hope we need to get through our hard times.
Another way to recognize our blessings is to help others. Sometimes when God puts a person in our life that needs help, we benefit more than they do. Helping others can really help our perspective:
- We appreciate food more when we feed the hungry.
- We appreciate good health more when we visit for the sick.
- We appreciate our home more when we help the homeless.
All of these corporal works of mercy help us appreciate the gifts we have been given.
When our kids were growing up, we had a tradition in our house. During supper each night, we would go around the table and everyone would say what they were thankful for that day. If a person had a really bad day, we would talk about it but we always found something to be thankful for. Some nights were tougher than others but it was a great tradition.
During the next month, I have a challenge for us to become more aware of the blessings in our lives: Everyday, before 3pm, find 3 blessings we are thankful for…that’s 3 blessings before 3pm for the next 30 days.
This shouldn’t be too hard at first but may become more challenging as the month goes on. We don’t want to repeat the same 3 blessings every day. After we have thought of the 3 new blessings, let’s us take some time at the end of the day to share them. We can write them down or share them with friends and family but most important is sharing them with God in prayer. Each day we should thank Him for our blessings and ask His help to find more tomorrow.
I want to leave us with one more thought about gratitude: The word Eucharist comes from a Greek word that means THANKSGIVING. Participating in the Eucharist is an action of thanksgiving to God. When we consciously receive His Body and Blood in Holy Communion we give ourselves back to Him with love and gratitude.
May we always recognize the blessings in our lives and live a life of gratitude.