(Sirach 50:22-24; I Corinthians 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19)
In one episode of “The Simpsons” brash Bart leads the family in grace before dinner. He speaks up, “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing!” Perhaps some feel a similar unwillingness to thank God today. It is not that they feel that they earned everything which they have. No, people have difficulty giving thanks today because it has been a difficult year. Covid-19 confined most everyone to their homes for a substantial time. Most, as well, have lost an elderly relative or friend who has succumbed during the pandemic.
There is also a failure to give thanks in today’s gospel. Nine of the ten men cured of leprosy do not return to thank Jesus for their cure. Their failure stems from the errant thought that it is not worth the effort to find Jesus. After all, they have lived in isolation for so long that they need to get on with life. The cured leper, on the other hand, recognizes something more important than enjoying good health. He sees the moral urgency to thank his benefactor. Before he goes to rejoice with family and friends, he gives Jesus the thanks that is due.
The year has been hard in many respects, but we – like the healed leper – should be grateful. There have been blessings. One man says that the time to himself has enabled him to read thirty books. A psychologist explains how adolescents have profited by being with their parents more. We remain indebted to God for our lives here and now and for the promise of eternal life. We do well to give Him thanks every day but especially this day designated for thanksgiving.