To be thankful and to be grateful is quite different. The 10 lepers in today’s passage would very likely all have been thankful to have found themselves cured. Being thankful is part of our human nature. If we found ourselves in the situation of these 10, we would have muttered, or even shouted “Thank God!”
We would have gone on to capture the moment with a ‘selfie’, texted on instant messaging and posted on social media. We would have celebrated excitedly with friends and family this “miracle in my life”. Since we have been taught that God exists and “He can do great things” we may simply feel lucky to be a recipient of this gift. We do not get far beyond the point of muttering our thanks and nodding in heaven’s direction. This would have been so for many a number of factors but one of which is that we lack the awareness of God, present and interested in our personal life.
One of ten dwelled on the moment. In dwelling into what had just happened, he silenced the distractions around him and overcame ‘the urge for a selfie’. In the silence he felt thankful, deeper down in him he felt a sense of gratefulness. The gratefulness was calling out to him to seek the Giver. He responded and through physical healing he found spiritual bliss.
God is active in our everyday life but buried and hidden under the mayhem of the distractions of our worldly desires and priorities. Often unseen and unrealised, God puts to order the disorder of our personal life. Because of his unconditional love he will continue to do so for any “10 lepers” even if 9 went away each time without gratefulness.
Gratefulness is a powerful blessing. It is a blessed tool to open our eyes to see the powerful presence of God in our personal life. Gratefulness opens up our heart to respond to this divine presence every day, every moment. Through gratefulness we become acutely aware of God and enter into a personal relationship with him. We go beyond the moment of thanks into the spiritual bliss of experiencing our faith.
Gratefulness is a gentle way to journey towards God. God calls us to be closer to him every day but often we cannot hear his call amidst the loud cacophony of our daily distractions. We are much like the 9 lepers too busy and too excited wanting to get back quickly into the rhythm of our worldly life, not wanting to miss a beat.
Often it is easier to see and hear God when we are in deep despair, when we have not much left and few people to turn too. In a prolonged period of darkness we stretched out our hands and grope desperately to find a divine presence. We break thresholds of pain through emotional sufferings before we wise up to embrace faith and go through healing to discover that God is present in our life every day, every moment.
Gratefulness helps us to bypass the rough steps to climb towards God. Being grateful, not just merely thankful, for the many small blessings in our daily life keep our heart and eyes open to an unseen God who through his unconditional love want to be visible in our personal life. Being grateful is to dwell in God’s presence. The opportunities comes to us in many small gentle moments each day.
We can choose how we want to live our life. We can walk towards our Giver of life, thanking him each step along the way. And like the one leper, we can opt for the path of gratefulness as it is the gentle stairway to heaven.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time