"What language shall I borrow
to thank Thee Dearest Friend
for this Thy dying sorrow
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever
and should I fainting be
Lord let me never, never
outlive my love to Thee"
The words of this hymn are attributed to the 12th Century mystic, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Since that time, they have been translated from Latin to German to English. Five centuries later, Bach added the music from a folksong in his Passion Chorale.
On this Thanksgiving Evening, I am grateful for the countless ways that my Lord demonstrates His constant, merciful and abundant love to me through my family, my friends, my feeble faith and the events of my life -- the good and the bad. The attitude of gratitude is a fertile soil within which the seeds of faith can take root and grow.
Luke's Gospel (17: 11-19) tells the story of the 10 lepers who were healed. When the one grateful leper returned to Christ after having been healed by Jesus, what did the healed man do? He fell on his face and thanked the Lord. Jesus then remarked, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well". This man's faith in Jesus made him well. Think about that. The simple act of having faith in Christ can heal us. It's fun to meditate on these elements of scripture. I find that I like to try to fill in the blanks of what was not revealed in the story. Was the 1 leper a grateful type before Christ healed him, or did it take the miracle to bring him into a grateful state of mind? What about the other 9? Why didn't they return? Did they feel entitled to the healing? Were they afraid? Did they think it merely coincidence? Did they rationalize that their leprosy was not so bad? Were they thinking of their blessed reunions with long, lost family? Of how they would dance and drink with their friends? Did they fear rejection by the authorities if they gave credit to Jesus? He was not real popular with the Pharisees, you know. If I think about it long enough, I can put myself in both situations. Sometimes I've had the faith of the 1 leper - face-in-the- dust-type gratitude - and sometimes I've had the sloppy ingratitude of the other 9 and used many of those reasons to justify my inaction.
I need the reminders. And I need days like today. If I had the faith of a mustard seed, I could move mountains. There it is again. Have a little faith and watch what happens. I have watched these mustard seed miracles in the lives of people that I actually know. And you know something? It works over and over and over again. Our Lord is teaching a very important maxim: Faith and gratitude are connected. I'd like to think that this gratefully clean leper went on to use that great faith of his to move some mountains. Perhaps he inspired St. Bernard of Clairvaux or St. Damian of Molokai. Grateful people - people with an attitude of gratitude are spiritually healthy people. They sort of interiorly 'sparkle'. They may suffer just like the rest of us but they live radically different lives evidenced by their thankfulness to someThing...someOne infinitely more powerful than them.
Grateful people - people of Grace - change our world. For all of you face in the dust types - I'm grateful for your example.
Happy Thanksgiving. May you be blessed by God's grace, mercy and kindness.