One of the main points I ask couples to reflect on as they prepare for their wedding is gratitude—as the beginning and foundation of a truly life-long commitment. All genuine commitments begin with a deep sense of gratitude.
Today’s gospel is about gratitude and faith, the often-told story of the healing of the 10 lepers and the one grateful leper, a Samaritan, a foreigner.
Please note the statement of Christ at the end: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Gratitude heals us. It is a deterrent to negativities such as envy, greed, inordinate attachment. It sets us free, due mainly to the detachment it brings. It makes us humble.
Many say that the Mass is one of the greatest acts and prayers of thanks. We must deepen our appreciation of this with the familiar “mantra” signifying the presence of God and the movement of His grace in the Mass: “We remember. We celebrate. We believe.”
Remembering is the first act in the grace of gratitude; aptly put in the French proverb, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”
Remembering is looking back to be able to not just look ahead, but also to move forward.
Martin Heidegger said that only those who remember are capable of projecting themselves into the future.
The other element of remembering I always emphasize is from Margaret Wheatley, a contemporary American author, speaker and philosopher. She points out that (for organizations) to remember is to reconnect, and when we reconnect to our identity, our authentic self, we are healed and restored to wholeness, our integrity as a person.
This is the intrinsic movement of grace in all healing: We reconnect. We reconnect to our wholeness and integrity. We reconnect to the wholeness of creation and existence, where everything is in a balance or equilibrium. We reconnect to God’s undivided whole and grace. We reconnect to his deepest integrity and identity, the God of love.
The story of the healing of the 10 lepers highlights one other key, intrinsic element of remembering as reconnecting and healing. When Christ heals the lepers, they are not only reconnected to their identity, wholeness and integrity. They are also reconnected to the community from which they were cut off.
This highlights the tremendous “power” of gratitude as grace not just for individuals, but for communities as well. A community rooted and grounded in and permeated by gratitude is very life-giving, joyful and compassionate.
This was characteristic of the early Christian communities, which, Scripture tells us, shared with one another.
Giving thanks is remembering how blessed we are. We celebrate the blessedness of our life in giving thanks. This life lived in gratitude and celebration is the true life of faith. We believe the most basic reality: God is love.
The graces and the blessings in the here and now are not the final goal; it is to live in the eternal presence of and with God. As Roseanne Sanders put it, “What we have done will not be lost to all eternity. Everything ripens and bears fruit in eternity.”
There is a song, “Blessings,” by Christian singer Laura Story, that beautifully captures this life of gratitude, faith and love. Excerpts:
“We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
’Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise