Acknowledge God's Graces Forever ¡V Remember Others' Favors for Thousands of Years

First Reading (Ex 17: 8-13): Naaman had faith in God
Second Reading (2 Tim 2: 8-13): With Christ we live and acknowledge him as King
Gospel (k 17: 11 ¡V 19): Cleansing of the ten lepers
Chinese classics:
-¡§Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty intended to kill his wet nurse¡¨(1)

¡§As the ten lepers went they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, ¡¥Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner? (Lk l7: 14-18)

The Gospel we read today is the story of the ten victims of skin disease, or leprosy. After Jesus had cured them, only one of the ten people returned to thank him. And the one who immediately returned with a heart full of gratitude was a Samaritan, one whom the Jews considered an 'outsider,' a person without faith. He was not one of God's 'Chosen People', not even one of the 'favoured' Gentiles.

At that time, those who had been struck with a skin disease or leprosy who thought they had been healed were required by law to be examined by a priest who certified that they had recovered and were 'clean.' Only then were they allowed to return to the wider society and live a normal life.

With this kind of background, the nine who did not return to express thanks were not necessarily ungrateful or unappreciative. They may have been in a hurry to undergo the priest's examination, so they could be declared physically clean and be allowed to return to their place in society quickly and be reunited with their families, relatives
and friends.

Perhaps those nine were just too happy. People too excited often do not think very clearly, or only think of themselves, put their own benefits first and neglect to think of anything else. Or they might have thought that when they met Jesus they would thank him then. But by postponing it in this way, it might easily slip their minds and after a while they might forget it altogether.

The Samaritan who returned to thank Jesus was special not only because he was grateful, or realized he should do this, but because it was the first thing he did. Gratitude was his first priority. He thought that when one had received a favor from another, that person should express gratitude immediately. No matter what the gift, he would not assume he deserved it or that it was something someone 'owed' him. So his outlook on life included a heartfelt sense of gratitude for all that he received.

There are some people whose entire life attitude is to think of others first, others are the center of their concern. There are others whose life attitude is to think of themselves first, as if aside from themselves, there is no one else.

Some people who have attained great achievements will always think of who had helped them along the way, what were some of the elements of their success, who gave of themselves to assist them on their road to success. They harbor a habitual sense of gratitude, always grateful to others and also grateful to God. There are others who at the smallest successful deed become smug and proud, supercilious, and think that their success is a result of their own efforts only. They never think of others, and even less of God, and of course they never show gratitude to anyone.
Secretly, in the depths of their hearts, they may even fear someone else will take away some of their glory.

Gratitude should be one of the special characteristics of a Catholic. Even our most important liturgical act (the Mass) is called the ¡§Eucharist¡¨ (act of thanksgiving). The Apostle Paul exhorted the Christians to ¡§Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.¡¨ (l Thess 5: 16-18) He encouraged everyone to
¡§ Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything.¡¨ (Eph 5:20)

The gratitude of Christians should be constant, all-embracing, with no limit of time or circumstances, that is, always thankful for everything. Gratitude should be engraved on the hearts of all Christians, expressions of gratitude always on their lips. It should permeate the spirit of the entire life of a Christian and be a source of motivation in their lives.

We sometimes are not grateful because we do not realize we should be, sometimes we forget and sometimes we are concerned about too many other things. We put aside thoughts or deeds that might express gratitude.

During the Han Dynasty, the former wet nurse of Emperor Wu committed an offence and the Emperor was about to punish her. She asked the help of the Court Jester, Dong Fang Shuo, who was the most clever and quick-witted member of the Court. Dong Fang Shuo advised her that pleading with the Emperor would not save her, but if she wished to succeed, ¡§after you have been questioned say nothing, but as you are being led away, look at the Emperor again and again. This is your only chance in a thousand.¡¨

The nurse followed his advice. When she was brought in, and then looked back at the Emperor, Dong Fang Shuo spoke up loudly, ¡§Why are you turning your head? How could the Emperor remember your former kindness? He was only a child when you were nursing him.¡¨ Despite his ambition and ruthlessness, the Emperor was a man of feeling. He suddenly felt very ashamed and pardoned the nurse her offence.

Can we in turn continue to nurture gratitude throughout our entire lives, always thankful for all persons and circumstances, and be grateful too to our Supreme Lord? Are we ready to acknowledge that all that we have and are comes from the benevolence of God and our parents, elders and society? Can we throughout life always remember God¡¦s bounty and that of other people? Can we be grateful at all times?