One in 10

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I once heard a story about a man who had passed away and was getting a tour of Heaven with St. Peter. They approached a room that was bustling with activity. There were angels and babies everywhere. When asked, St. Peter told the man that is the room where babies receive their souls. Moving on they came to another room where angels were working. 

When asked, St. Peter indicated that this was the room where prayers and requests were received. It was extremely busy with millions of angels moving to and fro. Moving on they came to another room, likewise, filled with millions of angels hard at work. When asked, St. Peter indicated that this was the room where blessings were sent to those who needed them or requested them. Finally coming to the next room, the man saw a huge room with only one angel at work. When asked, St. Peter told the man that this is the room where thanks to God were received!

With the feast of Thanksgiving this week, perhaps, we might take a moment to think about this story and what it means to us. So often we turn to God when we are in need of something. Do we, however, thank God for all that we do receive each and every day?

In the Gospel for Thanksgiving Day, we hear the Gospel passage on Jesus cleansing the 10 lepers. The striking part of this story is that Jesus cleansed all 10 of the lepers but only one came back to give Him thanks. One out of 10. In fact, the one that came back was a Samaritan, an outsider. 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.”

Just as in the angel story that I shared with you at the beginning of this article, we ask for things from God and we receive so many blessing from Him.  However, is it just as in the leper story, that there is a room needing only one angel to handle all of the thanks we give to God?

I wonder how I might have acted had we been given what the 10 lepers received that day? Would I have come back to give thanks for what we just received, or would I have just gone back to our normal lives? What about you?

Sometimes we respond to something done for us with a rote “thank you.“  That’s not what I’m talking about. This always reminds me of the little child whose parents say, “Now say thank you.” While a good lesson, the little child most likely repeats the parent’s words without really meaning it. What I’m talking about is a deep gratitude. A true appreciation for what God or another has done for us.

We receive so much from God and from others. Do we appreciate all that is done for us or do we just take it all for granted? Just like the 10 lepers we may let the many blessings we receive be hidden by the negatives in our lives and surely leprosy is a negative! We may have some difficulties in our own lives, like illness, or unemployment or perhaps even difficulties with others. We can surely find things in our lives to be grateful for or can we only do so if we see others who are less fortunate than ourselves?

On this Thanksgiving season, let’s first and foremost give sincere thanks to God for our faith in Him and for all He has given to us. Let’s also give thanks to our parents, and teachers, and religious, and others who make our lives better and easier who, we perhaps, forget to thank. 

I pray that we may all be more like the leper who was not only cleansed, but, because of his faith, because of his giving thanks, was made whole again. 

I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving and a sharing of a heartfelt and blessed “giving of thanks”  to each other this holiday season.

Anchor columnist Frank Lucca is a deacon in the Diocese of Fall River assigned to St. Mary’s Parish in Dartmouth and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of 42 years, Kristine, and the father of two daughters and their husbands, and four grandsons with one more on the way! 

So thankful!

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