A children’s homily:
Once upon a time, there were two twin sisters named Dara and Clara. Dara and Clara were the princess twins of a fairy tale kingdom from long ago. And on this particular day, it was their birthday.
When they awoke that morning, they were excited to go to the playground to play with their friends. But, they were saddened to see that it was a blustery, cold and rainy morning. Dara ran into her room, upset that she would not be able to go outside, and stayed there all morning. Clara was disappointed, at first, but then she realized that it would be fun to go into her room and play with her toys. She was thankful for the playtime… and felt happy.
At lunchtime and because the King and Queen had told them that they could have lunch at their favorite restaurant, Tony’s, they were excited when the clock in the high tower struck noon. Off to Tony’s they rode in their horse drawn coach. But… Tony’s was closed because their oven was broken. Instead, they went for spaghetti and meatballs at Mario’s. Dara was upset that Tony’s was closed and so she did not eat anything for lunch. Clara was glad to be able to eat out at a nice restaurant and she was thankful. She ate up all of her spaghetti and meatballs and was happy.
Then, the best part of the day came… their birthday party. All of the children from throughout the kingdom came and they had great fun. Even Dara.
When the time for gifts came, they both knew they wanted a Silly McGilly doll. As they opened the presents and received many great gifts, they both started to get a little anxious — no one had yet given them a Silly McGilly doll. Finally, when the last gift was opened and it was not a Silly McGilly, Dara because upset and ran off to her room crying. Clara looked over at all the awesome gifts she had received and was thankful for every one of them. And she was happy.
That night, both Dara and Clara kneeled down to pray.
This was Dara’s prayer: “Dear God, what a disappointing birthday. First, it rained and I could not go to the playground to play. Then Tony’s was closed and I couldn’t have lunch. And then I never got the only thing I really wanted… a Silly McGilly doll. This was my worst birthday ever.”
And this was Clara’s prayer: “Dear God, thank you for the playtime this morning. Thank you for the delicious spaghetti and meatballs at Mario’s and thank you for all the great birthday gifts I received. What a great day. This was my best birthday ever.”
That night, Dara went to bed very sad. And Clara went to bed very happy.
What was the difference between the two princesses?
In the story from today’s Gospel, Jesus healed ten people who were very sick. But only one of them came back to say thank you. That person was like Clara… and was thankful. Jesus said to that person: “Your faith has saved you.”
Jesus is saying that it is very important to be thankful. To be grateful. Why don’t you go back now to your seats and thank whomever brought you here today. Just simply say: thank you.
To the adults:
Much has been said about the value of gratitude. Social scientists are proving that those who are the most grateful are also the happiest. Great work has been done at the University of California, Davis in this regard. In one experiment, 300 people were asked to keep a regular journal. The first 100 were told to write down those things every day they were most grateful for, another 100 were instructed to jot down all of the things that annoyed them, and then 100 were told to write down whatever they wanted.
The first group, over time, reported higher levels of happiness. They slept better, ate better, and exercised more too.
Coincidence? The scientific community would say not as this has been verified many times over.
Oftentimes, we are asked the question: “How should I pray?” It is frequently stated that prayer should help form the basis of a personal relationship with God, that it is a two way communication connection between us and Him.
Imagine if you were trying to form a relationship with someone and this is how your ‘communication connection’ with them went: “You don’t call, you don’t write. Do you have any money I could have? Will you come to my home this weekend and help me move a piano?”
Now imagine if this is how it went: “Thank you for coming here today. Thank you for your beautiful smile. Thank you for being my friend.”
Does one of those styles sound more like the way you pray? Would you say you are more Dara or more Clara in your approach?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching us an important lesson about gratitude. It’s one we’d do well to heed.
Oh… and thank you.