Remembering Our Manners

One of the first things parents often teach their children is to use words like “please” and “thank you.” My three year old granddaughter is pretty good about remembering these words, but every now and again she needs a gentle reminder.

In our gospel story this weekend, Jesus heals ten lepers. As they are dancing away, their leprosy gone, one of them returns to thank Jesus for this miracle. Jesus rightly asks what happened to the other nine. Were they not also healed? This story offers us a much-needed chance to remember to have “an attitude of gratitude.”

Do you and I remember to thank God daily for all the blessings He has given? This is an important exercise that we should consider making part of our morning and evening routine. As we grow in the habit of giving thanks, we begin to see the world through the eyes of our loving God, who has given us everything. We have homes, cars, vacations, bank accounts, food, comfort and so much more; it can be easy to grumble and complain about all that we don’t have. I always seem to be able to focus on the thing that annoys or challenges me, instead of focusing on all of my blessings.

I recently read a touching story about a beautiful twenty-two year old Italian woman, who died of an aggressive form of cancer. She was a world-class violinist, author and brilliant student who studied at fine universities. This woman was engaged to a wonderful man and had what seemed like a perfect life. Then cancer came. Initially, she was bitter and angry. How could God do this to her? At twenty-two years old, how could it be that her life would soon end?

This young woman began writing a blog. She described her feelings, her hopes and her dreams. Many people were inspired by her marvelous reflections on her life and how she was learning to live with cancer. Toward the end of her life, she wrote about a moment of conversion. She had attended World Youth Day years before and had heard Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul II) speak. He spoke to the youth about giving their lives to God and about suffering. Her heart was convicted by his words, as she now reflected upon them in light of her diagnosis.

Through the eyes of faith, she began to see her cancer as a gift. Cancer made her see her life in a new and beautiful way. All the things she previously thought were important faded into the background. Her life with cancer suddenly became the focus of her reflections. She celebrated cancer instead of cursing it! She died at only twenty-two years of age, and left a legacy of faith for many who journeyed with her through her trial.

Each day we are presented with joys and sorrows, triumphs and challenges. God is in all of it. Whether we realize it or not, God’s hand is always upon us. Many of us have a difficult time understanding why there is suffering in the world. I personally struggle with suffering almost every time I encounter it. Suffering brings us face-to-face with the reality of our dependence on God as the source of everything we have. Suffering helps us to strengthen our faith, because we must rely only on God as the source of our consolation.

If we want to quickly realize all that God has given us, we should adopt an “attitude of gratitude” that draws us back to the source of everything we have. As we awaken in the morning, we can be grateful for the warm bed and the roof that protects us. We can offer God thanks for the hot shower and the fresh cup of coffee that starts our day.   Instead of cursing the car in front of us, we might thank God for a car that runs. We can thank God for our job, our friends and our family, for the singing of the birds and the chirping of crickets.

My brothers and sisters, let’s not be like the ungrateful nine who danced off without thanking the One who healed them. Let’s begin to see God’s hand in every moment of our day. As we grow in our ability to give thanks to God for everything, we will find that our hearts grow in generosity toward others.

May we flood the gates of heaven with unending thanks for all that God has given!

In gratitude,

Deacon Tim

 

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