28th Sunday

28th Sunday 10-Oct-2010

Luke 17:11-19: “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.”

Today’s Gospel introduces ten men who were struck with leprosy, a disease that does not discriminate between rich or poor, saint or sinner. Leprosy made them social and religious outcast. When they approach Jesus they are rid of the leprosy and the stigma that goes with it. But only the Samaritan realized that he was not just cured of the disease but healed and rushed back to express his gratitude to Jesus.

If you had the option of being cured OR healed, what would you choose?

What gave Jesus the power and the freedom to be counted among the social and religious outcasts? Perhaps it was his own attitude of gratitude. We get a glimpse of this attitude in some of the important events of his life: He multiplies the loaves and the fish by first giving God thanks; he does the same at the Last Supper, when he raises Lazarus from the dead and in so many other situations.

Gratitude is the memory of the heart and the window to the soul. Gratitude is when we give thanks for the gifts and benefits we have allowed ourselves to receive. In this act of receiving, our selfish egos disappear. These gifts then will overflow from us to the rest of the world, like Jesus, without discrimination, or counting the cost, keeping a record and least of all seeking a reward. Gratitude cultivates in us that peace and freedom that the world cannot give and inner bliss that no one or nothing can take away from us.

Paul makes gratitude his recipe for happiness. “Be happy always, pray without ceasing and in everything give God thanks for this is the will of God” (1 Thes 5:16-18). When gratitude becomes a way of life we do God’s will in the truest and the fullest way possible. Paul also teaches that if we want to live an anxiety-free life or the Easter life of peace and courage we need to pray with gratitude in our hearts (Phil 4:6). In fact Paul is convinced that when gratitude is missing in our heart, our minds become evil and our lives futile (Rom 1:21).

Some suggestions to make gratitude a way of life:

  • Every night as you fall asleep, give thinks for at least three things that happened during the day.
  • Every night do not think about how much more you could do for your spouse, your near and dear ones, rather think about all those things that they did for you and those you did not really pay much attention to and be grateful
  • Say your grace before and after meals at different times of the day. This prayer is not about your food alone: Bless us O God and these Your gifts which we are about to receive…. We give you thanks for all the benefits which we have received from Your bounty.
  • Make a Gratitude Circle: Draw a big circle on a sheet of paper
    • Write out the names of people who reached out in love to you. Put the more significant ones at the center and the less significant away from the center. Make sure you mark even those seemingly insignificant.
    • Now remember significant experiences and in a rectangle write out the approximate date and place and a word, phrase or symbol that will remind you of those experiences—the more significant at the center.
    • Look at your Gratitude Circle everyday and express your gratitude in any way that is meaningful to you and keep adding to your entries.

How about you offer some ways to make Gratitude a way of life that have worked for you or for your friends?


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14 Responses to 28th Sunday

  1. Tom McGrath says:

    Thank you, Paul, for this wonderful reflection on gratitude. When I cultivate a grateful heart, my life is immeasurably better than when I stew in resentment or a sense of entitlement denied. I find that life opens up and offers countless gifts I would otherwise not have recognized if I remained in a stingy disposition. If my hands are tightly closed, I can receive no gifts. If my hands are open, God seems pleased to offer endless blessings. You have taught me to stop worrying so much about whether or not I have loved sufficiently (which usually has as its impetus a hope to demonstrate that I am therefore owed a reward), and to focus on the ways I am being loved by God and others in my life. And from what I receive, much overflows out to others. Today I will open my heart so God’s love can flow in and up and outward. Tom

  2. mguggina says:

    I am grateful for this blog. Thank you.

  3. Joyce says:

    The paragraph beginning with “Gratitude is the memory of the heart and the window to the soul.”……………….and ending with “inner bliss that no one or nothing can take away from us” contains the message you have spent your life spreading. St. Ignatius is surely smiling as are your pupils (all of us). You have always presented the real challeng in life as being able to “receive” from God and from others. To reap the fulness of any gift, one must appreciate it. Focusing on our gifts removes any chance of ego blossoming. Being healed may remove scabs, but being cured results in purity and wholeness. Only then do we become mirrors of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit.

  4. Dora says:

    We have been so fortunate for all the insights we have received from you over the years and would like to grab this opportunity to say THANK YOU. Today’s reflection has a beautiful yet a simple recipe to a happy life. I loved the thought on the Grace before and after meals…. most of the time it was said so mechanically.


  5. Terrence Shaughnessy says:

    It seems at times that a general lack of gratitude is overwhelmingly sweeping across the land. Media pundits, politicians attempting to move up the ladder and formerly civil neighbors compete for our attention daily in the race to tear apart what has been previously seen as the common good. Within this form of desolation is a strong need for the kind of clear, insightful thinking offered by Paul in his reflection. Jesus consistently invites us toward independent thinking as an essential way to foster an “attitude of gratitude”. When I break away from the myriad ways I am drawn into groupthink and the resulting negative energy I am able to creatively and independently find all kinds of things to be grateful for. Gratitude for me is a natural outflow of taking a different perspective than what may be generally accepted, creatively explore, in faith, new ways of being, and return to God’s creation enlivened.

  6. Justin Joannis says:

    Hi Paul,

    There you are again, giving us wonderful reflections, food for thought and encouragement. Yes, being Gratitude to God or ALLAH in all things should be in our blood and flowing and expressing in every breath that we take. And, it’s been proven, time and again, in my life that the more I expressed gratitude, not just by words but more so in actions, the more I received from the Good LORD. In other words, “countless blessings” every moment, each day!

    Therefore, my simple formula in life is: Life=Gratitude. Indeed, God deserves our Gratitudes!!!


  7. Joan says:

    This reflection on cultivating an attitude of gratitude is so beautiful… I’m so grateful to you for sharing this blog with me 🙂

    About : “If you had the option of being cured OR healed, what would you choose?”
    Well… I would choose “being HEALED” and made whole !!!

    I’ve read all your posts so far and while all of them are good – I just LOVE this one on ‘gratitude’ – I read it again and again… and I’m making myself aware throughout the day to look at everything with an “attitude of gratitude” !!!

    Thank you again and just so you know: You feature prominently in my “Gratitude Circle” 🙂

    May God bless you ALWAYS ….

  8. Joyce says:

    I correct myself in transposing healed and cured. Guess I could use some healing of the brain along with my whole being.
    Love your blog, Paul. Thank you!

  9. Julie Schap says:

    Keith and I start each day with a walk through our garden then coffee at a small table by our kitchen bay window. The table was his grandmother’s table and means the world to Keith. We read to each other from a number of sources and talk about our reaction and interpretation. I didn’t realize until now that gratitude is the basis from which everything else flows. We spend close to 2 hours doing this before we dress and leave for work. Paul’s words here and in his books and other writings are so calm and reassuring. They’ve taught me to make the entire day a prayer, to focus on what is happening, and keep God right by my side.

  10. Deborah says:

    Thank you for the reflection on gratitude. I think gratitude should become a way of life. In this way we stop focussing on what we don’t have, rather on what we have and how much we have been blessed with. Another way I find helpful with gratitude, is having a gratitude journal, where a person can record their ‘items’ of gratitude every evening – things that have been blessed with during the day and for which they are grateful for, from the smallest to the gratest. I liked the idea of the ‘gratitude circle’ and will apply it daily.

  11. Donal says:

    I like what you write about thanks. A practive I have – every time I have to go back for something I forgot (senior moment), or any time I am stuck in traffic I think of someone for whom I am grateful and thank God.

  12. mary c says:

    It seems that i must make a conscious decision to be grateful, and for things i consider blessings, that is not too hard to do. What about my trials and confusing situations? What about when i have hurt someone, or embarrassed myself? Merlin Carouthers’ book, Power in Praise, taught me to praise and thank God for everything (indeed from St Paul!) especially when it seems irrational to do so! When i can say, ‘God, i don’t understand this at all, but i do praise you for this situation, i trust you, i know you can use this’, it takes me out of the picture and puts all the attention on God. My ego steps aside and i can relax. When i started doing this, i would say it half-heartedly, often not even meaning it. But it works. Peace comes with it. Trust comes and gratitude always comes.

    James Finley talks of a practice from the Cloud of Unknowing which i use. He says to turn interiorly, turn inward, and look at the place inside yourself that stirs with love when thinking of the Holy One. Even if this stirring is not happening at the moment, the place is still there. Turn to it, and raise it up, give it to God. Don’t ask any questions, don’t try to figure anything out, just stay in that position of raising that place inside to the One who put it there and stirs it. When i do this, i become very focused and know to Whom i belong. All within is grateful and rests in the peace that comes from the source of all peace.

  13. Mary Jo says:

    We go through seasons in our life. And some seasons are very long and flow easily. And others are filled with loss, self awareness, pain and trials. I do believe a lot of pain is self inflicted brought on by our fears. I just read in the Tao; “The great Way is easy, yet people prefer the side paths.”

    It seems more reasonable to be grateful for the good times ,the seasons of laughter and gain. But to say my God Thank you for holding me and guiding me through this time of terminal illness, the loss of my child ,my failed marriage, the loss of my job…. What faith this takes. To truly believe James when he says, “Consider it all joy when you face various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. The beauty is to be our broken selves and say thank you for this trial for your hand will guide me and your plan for me is perfect. I may fall 7 times yet I will get up 8 times.

    Gratitude is a sign that we have the faith that no matter what we are facing, we truly believe he is carrying us through the perfect plan he has for our lives.

  14. Lara says:

    Thank you Paul for this powerful reminder, it can be a wonderful practice to have gratitude for the simplest things such as a shared meal, the stars in the sky or the next breath. Once we practice gratitude we realize, they are not so simple after all!

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