Remembering Gratitude

In this week’s first reading from the second Book of Kings (2 Kings 5:14-17), Naaman, an army commander for a foreign king is miraculously healed from his leprosy after being advised by Elisha to “plunge into the Jordan seven times.” As a result of being healed of his leprosy, Naaman shows tremendous gratitude to Elisha and professes his conversion of faith. Naaman proclaims his conversion of heart by telling Elisha, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

It took a physical miracle for Naaman to believe in the God of Israel. Do you and I believe based upon our faith or are we looking for physical miracles before we believe?

Paul (2 Timothy 2:8-13) tells us of his willingness to suffer like a criminal so that he can continue to remind us of his gospel. He says, “Beloved: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David.”  Even shortly after Jesus’ resurrection he still had to devote his life to remind the early believers of what had happened.

Why does Paul do this?  So that each of us can “obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” and join Paul to be “together with eternal glory.”   Paul goes on to say:

If we have died with him

we shall also live with him;

if we persevere

we shall also reign with him.

But if we deny him

he will deny us.

If we are unfaithful

he remains faithful,

for he cannot deny himself.

The scripture that says, “To whom much is given, much is expected” means many things. For those of us who have received Jesus’ message about how to love and serve God and each other, we’re expected to live that way. We’re no longer living in blindness. We’ve received  light and life directly from God’s only Son.  We also know that Jesus died to atone for the sins that were committed in the past and that we’re still committing today. We’re to connect with Jesus as he instructed.  He is the vine and we are the branches.  He is our source of life and salvation. When disconnected from the vine, we’re separated from our source of life.  As Paul said above, “But if we deny him he will deny us.” Why would we deny him when we know how good he is and how strong and good we can be when connected to him?

Luke’s gospel instructs us and reminds us about gratitude. In this passage (Luke 17: 11-19), Jesus cures 10 lepers from their disease.  Unlike Naaman, these 10 lepers believed in Jesus. They were specifically asking Jesus for assistance by calling out, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”  Once Jesus cures all 10 from their leprosy, nine of them kept on walking away and only one of them returned to Jesus to say “thank you.”

At the heart of Christianity is the belief that Jesus suffered and died for each of us. Through him we’ve received the gift of salvation.  How often do we say “thank you” for this gift? Are we like the Samaritan who returns to fall at the feet of Jesus in gratitude or are we more like the other nine lepers who’ve received a miraculous gift and failed to acknowledge it?

Jesus tells the Samaritan who returned in gratitude, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  All ten received the cure from their leprosy.  Nine lepers failed to show gratitude and were not assured of the profound healing he promised the Samaritan: salvation.

Stay connected to Jesus the source of our life and salvation on a daily basis in grateful service to others, in prayer and in meditation on how to faithfully live God’s love.

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