(Sirach 50:22-24; I Corinthians 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19)
Europeans are said to become indignant with Americans for their politeness. They cannot understand why their neighbors across the western sea always say, “Thank you.” Even when the person offering them a service for which she is well paid or which is of no value to them, Americans are likely to express appreciation. But gratitude becomes a person even when its expression is not sincere. It is also true that when thanks are given to God, they can never be over-exaggerated.
All three readings today exhibit a grateful heart. In the first Jesus ben Sira credits God for assuring the growth of every human. He recognizes that the magnificence of the mind and body are the handiwork of a benevolent designer. In the second St. Paul thanks God for allowing the Corinthians to experience the grace of Jesus Christ. God has blessed them with every kind of spiritual gift. The gospel shows the Samaritan going out of his way to thank Jesus. The man would naturally want to share his joy with his family, but he shows the due priority. God, the author of life and of grace and of virtue, is always to be thanked first.
Perhaps the importance of giving thanks has been etched in American minds because we celebrate Thanksgiving. The celebration started with early American immigrants giving thanks to God for survival. It was given national prominence by President Lincoln as an expression of gratefulness to God for sustenance. It continued through the years of the prosperity during the twentieth century. And we do not stop today because we know that the gift of creation and the grace of salvation are much more than our doing.