Guest Homily for Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010:
By: Father Cusick
Jesus cures ten, but only one returns to give thanks. “Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? No one, it seems, has come back to give glory to God but this foreigner.” Perhaps this percentage of thankfulness continues among God’s children today. All have abundant and infinite reason to give thanks yet very few turn to the Lord with words and hearts expressive of gratitude.
The teaching of Christ here is not about the healing of the flesh; it is of a far greater and more precious gift: the grace of God by faith in Christ Jesus. God’s gift of faith in the Son of Man is poured out freely for all, regardless of race, language, or place. The working of his grace is seen here in the gratitude of the Samaritan. He who was thought to be socially repulsive, and an outcast even before he contracted leprosy, shows the dignity of faith in returning to give thanks to Christ. “Rise, and go your way, your faith has saved you.”
How often do our prayers turn to the theme of thanksgiving to God? Does our concern for present needs and wants cloud our remembrance of past gifts and blessings? Do we forget that all we have and are is “gift” – what then should be our response to the Giver?
Giving thanks is at the heart, and gives its name to, the most important act of the Church: the offering of the holy Eucharist in the sacrifice of the Mass.
“Thanksgiving characterizes the prayer of the Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist, reveals and becomes more fully what she is. Indeed, in the work of salvation, Christ sets creation free from sin and death to consecrate it anew and make it return to the Father, for his glory. The thanksgiving of the members of the Body participates in that of their Head.” (CCC 2637)
The Scriptures are our model of prayer and illustrate for us the many reasons and occasions on which we can and should render thanks to God “from whom all blessings flow.”
“As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’; ‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.’ (1 Thess 5:18; Col 4:2)” (CCC 2638)
Refusal to thank another may imply one deserves the gift. Entitlement is an illusion to which all humans can fall prey. This dishonors the generosity and virtue of the giver and shows sinful pride in the receiver. Failure to thank God makes the creature equal to the Creator. Reality is distorted and pride reaches even greater heights: the finite pretends to infinity.
Pride is to be shunned by the baptized believer as a sin against divine love which puts salvation at risk if unrepented.
“One can sin against God’s love in various ways:
- “- indifference neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power.
- “- ingratitude fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him love for love.
- “- lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.
- “- acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness.
- “- hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.” (CCC 2094)
Thankfulness is a necessary component and expression of our love for God who has loved us in Christ to His death on the Cross. What can we do but give thanks every day to God who has put to death our death by the death of His own Son and, by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, given us a share in His own life which never ends? If we open our hearts and minds to this perspective of faith, how could we fail to begin and end every prayer and offering in heartfelt and loving thanks to our heavenly Father?