October 9,2022 Luke 17:11-19
There are certain pieces of advice my father doled out that I continue to remember. Some more useful than others, “hate is a very strong word, we don’t hate anyone”, “no crown without a cross”, “always have a timepiece in every room”, “know which way you’re headed before you get to the end of the driveway”, “always ask your spouse how their day went”, and “if you lend money don’t expect it to be returned.”
That last piece of advice came back to me when I heard today’s gospel. Back in his hometown in India people assumed Dad had money since he had worked in the United States. Dad was a college professor here, not a particularly lucrative career at any time, and especially with 3 kids to support. Yet when he was in India family and friends would ask for money or some favor,and he would usually say yes. When I would visit it felt like a daily occurrence at times. Years later when I was an adult he said to me,”you know how many people have come back to say thank you after I helped them? Two! If you loan someone money don’t expect it back and save yourself some grief.”
While Dad and Jesus would have appreciated a thank you, I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t need a thank you, and instead is hoping we have a heart that compels us to say thank you and a soul that understands the gift given. Lepers were the outcasts of society, and Jesus cured them! This wasn’t going to the doctor to get an antibiotic for everyday strep throat, this was receiving CPR to keep your heart pumping! The 10 lepers had gone from being shunned,isolated, and living only among lepers to rejoining their community, to seeing their families. They were reborn, life would never be the same! Jesus had given them a new life in more ways than one and yet only one returned to say thank you. Only one knew the preciousness of the gift he had received.
On the way to dropping the kids off at school each morning we have a ritual of saying three things we’re thankful for. Sometimes the kids just list off whatever is outside their car window-horses,fences,grass. At least once a week I mention my Instant Pot, but I’ve never said my faith. I take my spiritual life for granted.Sunday mass, Hail Marys and Our Fathers are all I’ve ever known, and even though I explore other religions and practices I’ve never considered what a gift it is to have all these practices in my life, and how it enriches my life and brings me closer to God. This Monday on the way to school I know what I will be saying I am thankful for.