The cleansing of ten lepers
AS Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
REFLECTION RETURNED TO GIVE THANKS TO GOD. Gratitude, they say, is the memory of the heart. Indeed, at the heart of gratitude is remembering or not forgetting.
In the parable, the nine lepers may have been too “overwhelmed” with joy at their having been cleansed that they forget to thank Jesus. But gratitude has so overwhelmed the heart of the Samaritan that, while he may have overlooked showing himself to the priests (perhaps as a Samaritan he is not burdened by Jewish ritual prescriptions), he returns and gives thanks. Thus, the nine Jews prove themselves obedient to Jesus’ words, but the Samaritan sees gratitude as his primary response to what God, in Jesus, has done for him.
We may be overtaken by our concern to “offer” God something in return for the blessings we receive, but God is more pleased with a grateful heart than with any offering.
Although you have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness but profit us for salvation” (Common Preface IV).