This Sunday’s Lectionary Gospel reading is one of my favorite Gospel passages. I think it’s a favorite because it’s such a simple story that we can all understand.
In the narrative from Luke 17, Jesus heals ten lepers. (“Maybe you can put some makeup on one of the children for Sunday’s service?” Rev John wondered out loud this afternoon.) At Jesus’ command, ten lepers were healed while they headed to the temple…and only one of the lepers (a Samaritan, at that) thought to turn around say thank you to the healer. Jesus wonders aloud about this–“Were not ten made clean?”
I can remember being a child and my parents teaching me gratitude. “What do you say to Mrs. So-and-So?” almost every parent says nearly automatically. We learn when thank you is appropriate. I tend to err on the side of extra-gratitude because I would hate for someone not to understand that I appreciate him/her or his/her efforts.
But sometimes we forget, don’t we? Sometimes we’re so excited about something turning around in our favor or excited about getting something wonderful that we forget to thank the giver. Sometimes I forget to say thank you…and sometimes I remember later and sometimes I never do.
I’ve been on the other side of that as well–the forgotten giver/doer. It’s kind of a sad feeling. I mean, we don’t do stuff for other people to receive their gratitude, but we sure notice when it doesn’t come. At least I do.
When I read Luke 17, I’m reminded that for as much gratitude as I try to express on a regular basis, I often forget to thank the giver of all good things. It’s not that I’m not grateful. It’s more that I’m forgetful…I’m spoiled…I’m quick to take things for granted or assume I deserve whatever just came my way.
There are so many things for which I am grateful, and I know that I would not have any of them if it were not for God’s mercy shown to me. I am grateful for a husband who loves me, for a healthy Jonas, for a wonderful place to live, for wonderful friends who share their time and talents with me, for being raised by parents who love me and made a happy home, for a ministry that is also a career, for food to enjoy, for the means to own a car, for so many reasons to laugh out loud, for the ability to write and reason, for…everything.
Listing things gets overwhelming because I am aware that there are so many reasons to turn around and say thank you.
May I be a person who lives gratefully.