Wednesday, November 15, 2006

32nd Wednesday in Ordinary Time (II)
The Saving Power of Gratitude


Readings: Titus 3:1-7; Psalm 23:1b-3a, 3bc-4, 5, 6; Luke 17:11-19

There are many advantages and benefits to living in a meritocratic society. But sometimes one wonders if one of the prices to be paid is a gradual loss of a sense of gratitude. When the theory is that everyone can make it if only s/he works hard enough, who gets the credit for success? I worked hard. I deserve what I got. And yet, if today’s readings are anything to go by, gratitude is crucial in the spiritual life.

In the gospel, ten lepers turn to Jesus in the depth of their need. And all ten receive physical healing. But it is only the foreigner, the one who re-turns to Jesus in a lavish display of gratitude, who receives salvation. Your faith has saved you.

Even as we live in this affluent society of ours, aren’t there many among us who are needy in one way and time or another, and who turn to Jesus for pity and help? Yet, we may wonder how many of us actually find the salvation that was the Samaritan’s reward? How many of us, for example, find in our association with Jesus the strength, energy and spiritual resources we need to meet the demands of daily living? How many of us can resonate with the experience of the psalmist, who had the Lord for his shepherd, leading and protecting even in a dark valley? Or are we not instead, like everyone else, simply stressed out and overwhelmed by all that life expects of us? If the latter is a better description of our situation, we might perhaps examine how far we have traveled along the road of gratitude.

Paul helps us along by reminding us of a crucial insight about God: it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us… We are all beneficiaries of the kindness and love of God, freely given, not merited. And it’s only to the extent that we allow this truth to penetrate ever more deeply into our hearts that we may begin to experience the power that gratitude brings, the same gratitude that won the Samaritan his salvation.

For what can we be grateful to God today?

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