Sunday, October 10, 2010


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 voices 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.

One of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice. 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.”


The word “thanks” is just one syllable, but many are unable to pronounce it. This is due not to a speech impediment but to a moral deficiency which paralyzes their hearts. Some are fast in asking for favors, but very slow in showing gratitude once they have received what they wanted.

The group of nine lepers who were cured by Jesus and walked away unmindful of their benefactor, is just a tiny delegation of the immense throng of ungrateful persons who take everybody, every service, everything for granted. They take people for granted, even when the favor or service received may have cost a lot of sacrifice.

They take God for granted – His gift of creation, the gift of their very persons, with all the wonderful qualities of soul and body. They take for granted His grace, the Church, the Sacraments, eternal life!

Ungrateful people are too blind, too deaf, too insensitive, too dull or too proud to say thanks to anyone, including God. If He could ever be saddened, human ingratitude would surely make Him very sad.

Gratitude is spontaneous for few. For most of us, however, it is a virtue acquired gradually, just like humility, generosity and honesty, virtues on which it is based. We have to learn to be attentive and responsive even to the smallest signs of kindness or generosity toward us. We have to learn to show appreciation for what other people and God do for us.

Without our realizing it, such an awareness enriches us immensely as does the awareness that we are loved, and the desire to love in return. Gratitude is indeed a form of love – love returned. A simple way of being great. A great way of being human.

There are so many ways of being thankful. It can be a written note, a frank smile, a sincere handshake, a delicate caress, a silent tear, a word uttered when it is time to speak it, or a word kept unsaid when grateful love demands that it should not be said.

Whatever form it may take, gratitude can never be a momentary formality. When it becomes such, it is hypocrisy. Then it is no better than ingratitude. Real gratitude is rooted deep in the “heart” of a person. It is “utang na loob” that characterizes a person’s life and establishes him/her in a permanent attitude of being a grateful debtor. Such deeply rooted attitude becomes alive whenever the occasion arises.

Then life becomes an unceasing “Eucharist” - a Holy Thanksgiving, a joyous giving of self to God and neighbor, in imitation of, and in union with Jesus, the one who taught men the real meaning and the million shades of “utang na loob.”