Imagine that when you go home today you find an envelope leaning against your front door. You open this envelope and inside you find a $100 dollar bill. If you are like me, you would be pretty excited. Wow, free money. I wonder where it came from. No note, no name, nothing to tell you where the money came from, just 100 bucks, a gift for you. Now, imagine that tomorrow the same thing happens, wow 2 days in a row. Imagine this happens for a week, for a month, for a year, imagine if you received this 100 dollar bill every day for 10 years. Would your attitude ever change? I suppose I would start to take that 100 dollars for granted. I might just get used to it being there, I doubt I would look at it with the same freshness and enthusiasm that I did on that first day. The objective state of things would be the exact same, you would have received a gift, but unless that gift remains ever new, our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes have a tendency to change.
Of course, I don’t know of anyone who gets a free 100 dollar bill every day of their lives. But, I do know that we all receive much more valuable gifts. Today we woke up. Not everyone received this gift today. Today we received the gift of life, but maybe we just take that for granted. For all those who are parents, today you received, again, the gift of your children. Not everyone has received this gift, yet maybe we take this for granted. Married couples, today you received, again, the gift of a loving spouse. Not everyone has received this gift, yet maybe you take this for granted. Today we have all received amazing gifts: life, family, friends, jobs, houses, cars, food, you name it.
Our readings today teach us about gratitude. I cannot overstate how important gratitude really is. Being thankful should mark the lives of every Christian disciple. As Christians we recognize that everything we have, everything we are, comes from God. Without God we would not have life, we would not have our abilities, we would have absolutely nothing. And yet, how easy it is to lose sight of this, how easy it is to just get used to the gifts that God gives us. Once we do that, life gets pretty boring, and can even get quite burdensome.
Just think of some of the daily struggles that we all have. Think about the fights, squabbles, disagreements, and tensions that are a part of everyday family life. Now imagine what would happen if everyone in the family awoke every morning praising and thanking God for the amazing people he has placed in our lives. I’m not saying every tension would go away, but I think our houses would be more peaceful. Imagine what life would be like if we awoke every morning simply amazed to be alive. What if we embraced every day like a gift, never knowing how many days we might have on this earth, would we live differently? To the person who has gratitude every day is amazing.
Today in the gospel we hear about a person with gratitude. The Lord Jesus has pity on 10 lepers and he heals them of their affliction. Now, I would imagine that all 10 were quite appreciative. I’m sure that all 10 were glad that they were no longer sick, no longer exiles, no longer the outcasts from society. I’m sure that all 10 would agree that they were better off having met Jesus. But, only one returns to the Lord, only one comes back to worship him.
Isn’t this story really our story? God has given us amazing gifts, which is why we are here today. We gather here at the Holy Mass to worship the God who has loved us and given us so many good things. Sometimes people ask: why do we have to go to Mass? There is no better answer than gratitude. At this Mass, and at every Mass, we have an opportunity to thank God for all the amazing ways he has blessed us. Hopefully this experience of worship fills us with a renewed sense of gratitude for all the amazing ways God has blessed us.