Recognize the difficulties before the blessings

The WORD in Other Words by Fr Dindo Fernandez SVD (Japan) for Wednesday Week 32 in Ordinary Time

Lk 17:11-19

One Japanese word that is very popular even among Filipinos is “Arigato,”  which means “Thank you.” In Japan, this greeting would ordinarily come with a bow.   Oftentimes, it is written in hiragana ( ありがとう ). However, looking at it written in kanji form (Chinese characters) would reveal a deeper meaning about this greeting.  

“Arigato” is written as 有難う. The first kanji ( 有 ) signifying “there is (are)” and the  second kanji ( 難 ) is the character for “hard or difficult (to do).” It expresses the fact  that to have something is in fact a difficult thing. Simply put, it is not easy to obtain   what we actually desire or want. It teaches us not to take things for granted, as if it is  an ordinary thing, as if it is naturally our right to obtain and receive everything that we have now. It reminds us to treasure what we have.   

The Gospel today narrates the story of the healing of the ten lepers, with only the  one Samaritan returning to Jesus glorifying God to express his gratitude. The other   nine experienced healing as well but they did not only forget to say thank you, but also failed to realize or look back at how difficult indeed it was to be cleansed from  their sickness. Much more, they had forgotten their difficulty when they were still with leprosy.   

In our present society where almost everything is obtained instantly and easily,   the word “Arigato” is a constant reminder of the blessings and graces that only God  can give. Do not take things for granted. “Give thanks with a grateful heart!”  

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