CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - "And one of the them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him" (Luke 17: 15-16).
Cicero, the famous Roman senator and orator once wrote, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." This Sunday's gospel narrative reminds us that gratitude is a rare virtue indeed.
The virtue of gratitude is the ability to express our thankful appreciation in word or deed, to the person whose words or actions have benefited us in some way. The truly humble and noble person will always be grateful for the benefits received. Ingratitude is an ugly sin.
How can the virtue of gratitude be acquired?
Fundamentally, cultivating the spirit of gratitude requires us to develop humility. We need to understand that everything that we have and everything that we are is a gift.
On this Thanksgiving Day, we might begin by taking out a pad of paper and a pen and making a list of all of the wonderful gifts that we receive each day of our entire life.
We could start with life. We have been given the gift of life. Consider the air that we breathe. We take such things as air, water and even good health all for granted. We need to consider our families, the houses that we live in, the food that we eat each day, our education, our jobs, and the fact that we live in a free country.
Once we consider the obvious gifts that we have received, we can go deeper. Take into consideration all that God has done for us. He loves us unconditionally. We have the Catholic Church, the Bible and the Sacraments. We can all remember how a Catholic priest inspired us in a homily, gave us an encouraging word in Confession, or came to visit us while we were sick.
We need to understand that we have received so much. Should we not always be grateful?
There is a story about a man in Budapest who goes to the rabbi and complains, "Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?"
The rabbi answers, "Take your goat into the room with you." The man is incredulous, but the rabbi insists. "Do as I say and come back in a week."
A week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before. "We cannot stand it," he tells the rabbi. "The goat is filthy."
The rabbi then tells him, "Go home and let the goat out. And come back in a week."
A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, "Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there's no goat -- only the nine of us."
The virtue of gratitude can be expressed in very simple ways. We should always express our gratitude. The phrase "thank you" should be a common part of our daily vocabulary.
G. K. Chesterton once said: "You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."
He also said, "When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?"
The French philosopher Jacques Maritain once said that "Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy." He is correct and it is important that we acquire good manners and social graces. The loss of morals and common decency has caused the gentleman and the lady to be something of the past.
The acquisition of the virtue of gratitude is very important. However it is equally important that we serve others with a spirit of detachment. We must not look for recognition or earthly glory. We must continue to love others without seeking anything in return.
Let us remember what Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount: "your left hand must not know what your right hand is doing" (Matthew 6: 3).
We all know that people can be very ungrateful for the service that is given to them. How many people thank those who give of themselves unconditionally?
Parents, teachers, clergy, police, firefighters, doctors and nurses many times live thankless lives. Nevertheless, the Gospel calls us to give of ourselves unconditionally and seek as our only reward eternal life in heaven.
This is true Christianity.
Any other posture is simply rooted in egotism.
The standard of greatness for Christianity is not earthly glory, but the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Many times we may receive appreciation and thanks from those whom we serve. Birthday celebrations, little expressions of thankfulness, and gifts from grateful people should be seen as noble manifestations of gratitude.
However, we must remember the example of Jesus. Only one of the ten lepers returned to give thanks for having been cured.
It is important to remember, that despite the ingratitude of humanity, Jesus continued his mission until his consumatum est.
His reward was the cross and the empty tomb.
When we serve with a spirit of detachment, we will walk among our brothers and sisters, even among those who have been ungrateful and hateful, with joy and a smile.
The disappointments and adversities that others may cause, will purify our interior motives and allow us to focus on eternity.
Gratitude is a rare virtue indeed.
We need to be filled always with gratitude for God's unconditional love.
We need to always thank all those who serve us and love us with their generous service.
"And one of the them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him" (Luke 17: 15-16).
Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.
By Tony Magliano
Seventy years ago, on August 6, 1945, the single most destructive weapon ever unleashed upon human beings and the environment - the atomic bomb - was dropped by an American B-29 bomber on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing approximately 80,000 people. Three days ... continue reading
By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Ex-Pastor Tullian Tchividjian of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida broke his silence after his recent moral failure admission and stepping down from his post. Billy Graham's grandson wrote an open letter to his supporters and friends, ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Christians all over the world are suffering from increasing prejudice and persecution. It is no secret that Islamic extremism and repressive governments are trying hard to perpetuate the oppression of Christianity. Pope Francis has been moved to warn of "a form of ... continue reading
By CNA/EWTN News
Jesus Christ's miraculous multiplication of the loaves shows that he offers "fullness of life for hungry man," Pope Francis said Sunday. He encouraged everyone to offer what little they have to God so that God can multiply their gifts and good deeds. Vatican ... continue reading
By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Wearing your best outfit or putting on a little makeup in preparation for Church isn't too looked down upon. A leading Christian writer shared with Crosswalk.com what she has realized over years of church participation. Although she loves beautiful clothes and make-up, ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
He was the first American who contracted the deadly Ebola virus - fearful and sick, Dr. Kent Brantly came to realize something important for Christians and their relationship with God. Amid the pain and moments of uncertainty, from being diagnosed positive with ... continue reading
By J. Matt Barber
So this was rock bottom. The day, which yet again wore into night with fast food and old Bonanza reruns, would end like all the rest. Where were my car keys? As I searched in preparation for another trip to the liquor store, I made my way to my bedroom and opened ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
With no end in sight, "donor fatigue" is setting in for those trying to help Middle Eastern Christians fleeing ISIS. There appears to be no solutions, only increasing refugees and more need. The refugees' situation is only getting worse. Refugees now realize ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Legal battle over the issue of a giant cross standing over a veterans' memorial has been a long and tedious fight, but an agreement may now put it all to rest, keeping the monument on the land. Atheists and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed legal ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
The lips on a painted image of the Virgin Mary, on display at the St. Charbels Church in New South Wales, Australia, were reportedly witnessed moving along with the reading of the Lord's Prayer. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The video featuring the Virgin ... continue reading