The WORD in Other Words by Fr Felix Ferrer SVD (Philippines), 28th Sunday Ordinary Time, 2 Kgs 5:14-17, 2 Tm 2:8-13, Lk 17:11-19
A story is told about a magical horse owned by a priest. You can only make it run when you say “Thanks be to God!” And you can only make it stop by saying “Hail Mary, full of grace!”
One day, a Protestant borrowed it and he was instructed on the magic words that had to be used when making it run or stop. So the Protestant said. “Thanks be to God!” Sure enough, the horse ran and when it was about to bump a tree, he said: “Hail Mary, full of grace! The horse stopped abruptly. Then he let it run again by saying, “Thanks be to God!”
He was enjoying the ride until he was nearing a cliff and forgot the magic words to stop it. He called out, “Our Father!” It did not stop. “Amazing Grace!” No way. When he was already at the end of the cliff, he suddenly remembered the magic words to stop it: “Hail Mary, full of grace!” And the horse stopped on time. So he sighed in relief, “Thanks be to God!”
Gratitude is something that we cannot ignore at the expense of our decency and integrity. The first reading according to the second book of Kings and the Gospel of today present to us an attitude of gratitude (Naaman after being cured of leprosy and the Samaritan after being healed by Jesus).
Why is an attitude of gratitude to God crucial to the wholeness of mind, body and spirit? Apparently, to be made well, we must add thanksgiving to our faith. The person who makes such acknowledgment experiences a salvation that goes beyond the merely physical cure. It is a reorientation of the inner life. How is our impulse to thank others related to our impulse to thank God? What does gratitude contribute to our being made well in body, mind and soul? Why is it so important that Jesus would chastise those who didn‘t value it?
Gratitude keeps us connected with the giver of the gift. It helps us recognize the source of a gift. Furthermore, it keeps us grounded in the value of the gift as we take it into new pursuits and places. All good gifts come from God. The attitude of gratitude keeps us focused on the source of life, love, and each new day. When we acknowledge the source of love, we are more likely to share it with others. Maybe that is why gratitude is important enough for Jesus to lament its lack “from the other nine.” May we not forget to thank the Lord for all the blessings that we have received in our life!