Sunday 29 after Pentecost

Luke 17:12-19

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today’s Gospel reading teaches us the importance of being truly grateful for the help that we receive from God and from others. As we see in today’s lesson only one out of the ten Lepers who received help from Christ went back to thank Him. That ratio is something we should grieve over. Jesus Christ is using this example of the ten lepers, to show us that we are often like the nine thankless men in today’s Gospel.
Why would God’s people not give thanks to God for His gracious deeds and healings? The Holy fathers of the Church say in one voice: we are not quick to thank God because we are too proud of "our own" perceived accomplishments. St. Maximos the confessor says, “As long as you have bad habits, such as a lack of true gratitude in your hearts for everything Christ has accomplished for us, do not reject hardship, so that through it, you may be humbled and eject your pride”.

Often times, when we have a conversation with our friends or fellow-workers, some of the time we hear their stories or they hear our stories about how good or successful we were for a period of time and achieved some successes. Rarely do we hear or do we state the small but most important addition to these stories: "Thanks be to God". If we are honest with ourselves, we may realize that we have become proud of what we believe to be our own achievements; sometimes, in our lack of humility, we do not allow even a single thought about God’s providence to be realized. Perhaps we have become consumed by our achievements that we find no place for a sober thought of thanks to our Creator and Savior.

Today, therefore is a good reminder for us be thankful again, and to remember that our God is loving and patient with us. He does not want us to perish in sin, and so He patiently waits for us to return to Him. In the Holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us warnings and advice as to how to live in a godly way, that leads us towards communion with Him.

In today’s Gospel the Ten lepers approached Jesus with their troubles. They receive His mercy and healing on their way to the Priest. Even though the nine did not return to give thanks, they still received healing. This is an important point for us. Even though we do not always give thanks for the gifts of grace we receive from God, we still receive the blessing.

Giving thanks to God is important because it teaches us to be humble and appreciate the often simple ways that we are aided in the spiritual life. It is very important for us to both notice and understand that the one who returned with thanksgiving in their heart, received even more. Jesus said to him, "Arise, go your way, for your faith has saved you" (Luke 17:19). This brings up another point of Jesus’ teaching. Thankfulness and true gratitude to God are results of deep faith. The nine lepers, according to the Holy Fathers, did not possess roots of deep faith; however, in spite of themselves, they were healed by His mercy. While their healing was for the good of their bodies, only those with gratitude in their hearts receive bodily healing along with the salvation of their soul, as with the example of this leper in today’s Gospel ("Arise, go your way, for your faith has saved you").

Similar to the ten lepers, we, in our lives receive many mercies from God. Many times we act as one of the nine, but occasionally we remember to act in the way we were meant to act, as demonstrated by the tenth one. Let us not forget, that true gratitude for God’s providence opens for us the door to salvation.

As we may see from today’s Gospel, being sincerely thankful places each of us in the path of salvation. Therefore, we should rightly recognize the works of God and give glory to God, as is meet and right. We need to establish the habit in our lives of recognizing God’s providence in all things, and thanking Him for each and every gift, as in this lies the path to eternal life. In this process, "our" so-called achievements will instead correctly become God’s blessings through which we humble ourselves and find true wisdom and salvation.

Therefore, let us not overlook thankfulness. Let us not just carry on as usual, but stop and reexamine our attitudes to the rest of the people around us; this means being alive to everything that is happening to us within the present moment, which, as the Holy Fathers tell us, is a state of grace that comes through prayer and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Syriac Fathers have this to say about gratitude: “When evening comes, collect your thoughts and ponder over the entire course of the day: observe God's providential care for you; consider the grace He has wrought in you throughout the whole span of the day; consider the rising of the moon, the joy of daylight, all the hours and moments, the divisions of time, the sight of different colors, the beautiful adornment of creation, the course of the sun, the growth of your own stature, how your own person has been protected, consider the blowing of the winds, the ripe and varied fruits, how the elements minister to your comfort, how you have been preserved from accidents, and all the other activities of grace. When you have pondered on all this, wonder of God's love toward you will well up within you, and gratitude for his acts of grace will bubble up inside you.

Let us be the elect of God, holy and beloved by following the good example of Jesus and His Apostles. In times when we feel personal satisfaction let us not forget to give glory to God for the things we have received from Him or according to His Divine Providence. Let us be the true followers of Jesus and worthy carriers of His name. Amen.