“Were not all ten made clean? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”

Luke 17:17-18

Monday, 28 September 2020

Luke 17:11-19

In this well-known text, Jesus heals ten lepers. Only one returns to give thanks for his healing. The returning leper is also the one least expected to be grateful. He was a foreigner, a Samaritan. One could wonder why the others never came to give thanks, did they think they were entitled to their healing? Did they think they were better than the Samaritan? Did gratitude for what they received never cross their minds?

We live in an age where gratitude is not a very popular attitude. Many people approach life with an attitude of entitlement and, the more they get, the less grateful they are for anything. Sometimes the more people accumulate, the more they think they are different from others. They live an illusion.

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, of being ready to show appreciation for what we have by being kind in return. But there is more. When we are consciously grateful for what we have, we will live a happier, more meaningful life. The Benedictine monk, Br David Steindl-Rast, says: “It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.”

Notice what Jesus says to the leper at the end of this account: “Rise and go, your faith has made you well!” Could Jesus be acknowledging that the leper will live a happier and more purposeful life by telling him to “rise”? Does his gratitude raise him to a more meaningful way of being?

Gratitude allows us to shift our thoughts and perspectives to what we have rather than what we don’t have. Studies show that people who focus on gratitude are more positive, more active and display fewer physical ailments. People who are grateful are less stressed. They have greater enthusiasm and motivation and are optimistic. When we are thankful, we become compassionate and we turn our attention to others by helping, caring and serving them.

Gratefulness gives us a different perspective, our problems and negativities diminish. Approaching life with gratitude means that we tend to focus on the positive things and accept the negative things for what they are.

Do I live with an attitude of gratitude? What can I be truly grateful for today?

Loving God,

Grace me today with the gift of gratitude for who I am and what I have. Help me to live this day consciously grateful for everything.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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