By Fr. Thiago, sx –
On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled through Samaria and Galilee, and “as he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.” We all know the condition of people with leprosy at Jesus´ time. They were considered people punished by God, and precisely because of this, such people should be excluded from society. Aware of this, those ten lepers stood at a distance and shouted: “Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!” Jesus saw them, and instead of running away, as the law prescribed, he told them: “Go show yourselves to the priests.”
Jesus looked at them for what they were: children of God, and gave them the freedom which comes from God. Jesus´ words, “which are not chained,” open doors and windows, enlarge the horizons of life and give ample respiration: Go! They don´t have to live isolated any longer, but there is life, hope and dignity once more. As the ten men were going they were cleansed, and one of them – a Samaritan – realizing it returned, fell at Jesus´ feet and thanked him. In turning back that person was saying: “Lord I´m thankful for the gift that I received, but, for me, more important than the gift – my healing – is the giver, are you.”
The attitude of this grateful Samaritan shows us that, thanksgiving is a dimension which should characterize Christian life, since this dimension leads us to acknowledge God´s constant gifts and blessings in our lives. If we “return,” like the Samaritan who was healed, and read our story with the eyes of faith, we will realize that every moment of our existence is a grace, and then we will not have anything else to tell God, but thanks. Thomas Mertom, once affirmed: “the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
Gratitude toward God should be translated as gratitude toward others as well. “It is so easy – said Bonhoeffer – to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” This dimension impedes us of taking things for granted and rekindles in us the sense of wonder. In our prayers, which sometimes are a list of requests to God, we should never forget to thank him for his constant care toward us through the presence of so many people, who are for us a gift, like Elisha to Naaman.
From the writings of Saint Guido
«God continues to watch over us; he supports us tenderly like a mother supports her child who is incapable of walking, in order to prevent him from falling; in the words of the Psalmist, He opens His kind hands and fills every creature with His blessings. All that we possess, all that surrounds us, the air that we breathe, the ground that supports us, the light that gladdens us, the food that nourishes us, the water that quenches our thirst, everything is His gift.»
(1918, 1 November, Parma, Cathedral)