In the first reading, Naaman returned to Elisha to give thanks while in the Gospel, the healed Samaritan, returned and thanked Jesus. Today’s lessons among other things brings home to us the importance of thanksgiving. St. Paul in his letter to Thessalonians says that thanksgiving is the basic foundation of our lives as Christians. Looking at our society, ungratefulness is one major crisis we have today.
This ungratefulness has manifested in the way human life has been cheapened. From abortion, suicide, euthanasia, to constant mass killings, all are manifestations of lack of gratitude to God for life. When life is thankfully accepted as a gift, it is usually manifested in how a society cherishes it and does everything to preserve it.
Being thankful extends to everything we are and everything we receive. The Jews who were healed in today’s gospel perhaps took it for granted that as Jews, they were entitled to God’s healing. That is false. Jesus rebuked them and showered praise on the Samaritan who knew that his healing was an unmerited favor from God.
Being grateful therefore means not taken anything for granted. As someone rightly said, “we tend to take for granted what we’ve always had, as though it was ours by right”. Dearest sisters and brothers, from God’s perspective, nothing is ours by right. As St. Paul asks us, “what do you have that you have not received? Everything is a gift and we are called always to be grateful for them.”
Being grateful begins with contentment. If we are not contented with what we have, we wouldn’t know that we already have so much. Truly, in life, we do not need much to be happy. Yet, we are always bombarded with the latest material goods that makes us think we need more and more and we are constantly in desire. “Day after day advertisements (commercials) try to inflame us with so many desires, that we can forget the blessings we have already.”
Being thankful means also trusting God not only in good times but in bad as well as knowing that everything He allows to happen is for our own good. Alexander Whyte who was famous for daily thanksgiving to God, on the day a blizzard covered the ground with a deep layer of snow and the power lines were down, prayed “We thank you God that every day is not like today”. Jesus today calls us to develop that thanksgiving mindset in all things.