When I was growing up, I was probably like a lot of other kids when it came to asking for something. I would go up to my mom and say, “Mom, can I have popsicle?” And she would look at me and wait with a look on her face that said, “Come on, we have been over this a thousand times already…” And then I would remember and say, “Oh yeah, …please!” and then she might give me what I was asking for. But the process wasn’t over! The second half of the bargain was me saying thank you, and if I forgot, she might hold onto whatever it was I had asked for and we might have a tug of war until I said, “Thank you!” Now if my thank you was not very sincere, she would snatch the item right back out of my hand until I came up with a more heartfelt thank you. Has that ever happened to any of you?
Well, I think she was trying to teach me to not just be polite, but to mean it when I said thank you and to appreciate when someone had given me something or done something for me. And that is what is going on in the Gospel today, 10 pleases… but only one thank you.
In the story from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus enters a village where 10 people with leprosy are. Now leprosy was a serious skin disease with no known cure at the time. When someone had leprosy, they had to live away from their family and from everyone in the village because people were scared that they would catch it from them. So, they often lived in caves away from all other people and had little contact with their family. They were lonely. So, when they heard Jesus was in their village, this was their big chance, so they yelled to him, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” A big please to Jesus. They wanted to be cured so that they could be with their families and be a part of their village again.
So, what did Jesus do? He told them to go to their priest and on the way all 10 were cured! All 10! And what did they do when they realized they were cured? Well they probably jumped for joy at this miracle and ran off to show themselves to the priests before running home full speed. Well, 9 of them did that, and 1 did something different. He instead returned to Jesus, “Glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” He realized that this was the greatest thing to ever happen to him – he no longer had to live apart from the rest of the world and he wanted to thank Jesus. In fact, he probably wanted to thank Jesus and God for the rest of his life for this great gift! And for that thank you, he was saved.
So, when God makes something really good happen in our lives, what do we do? Did we run off and celebrate like the nine and forget to say thank you to Him? Or did we drop to our knees to pray and thank God like the one?
In our lives, we probably do not have such a serious disease as the man did, but we do carry burdens and worries that are difficult. Sometimes those burdens we struggle with are not cured or lifted right away, but maybe we experience instead an unexpected joy that is a gift from God that kind of cures us from the burden we are carrying. It may not be the answer we expected, but God sent it just the same because He loves us and maybe that is what we need at that moment.
So, when we are praying to God about our burdens and life’s worries, after we say please, we need to be open to that unexpected gift, that momentary joy that gives us relief from what we are worried about. And while God probably doesn’t give us the same look my mom did, we owe him that heartfelt, genuine thank you.
Can you do that kids? Can you tell God thank you in a prayer today? If you do, I promise, you will make Him smile!