At the core of our November retreat, being fed daily by the Word of God, we have once again been reminded of the terrible affliction that spanned both the Old and Testaments, that of leprosy. If we were to look upon this frightful and dehumanizing disease that attacks the skin and bones, it becomes an excellent metaphor for the lack of faith and vain trust in the self and its effects on the soul. One horrible aftermath of leprosy was the exclusion of the sufferer from the rest of the community. They became outcasts and wholly rejected. So, too, with the seeds of sin and death that undermine a true and loving attachment to the Lord, we become outsiders to life and seemingly never able to be part of the community again. This is where the touch of Christ means everything. He wants us close to Him; He desires our reunion with the Church and the community of believers. He truly wants us closer to Him than we are to ourselves. We must die for pride so we can live again.
“Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Perhaps there is no other depiction from anywhere in the Bible that illustrates and highlights the depth of ingratitude. The sick, horribly-looking lepers came to Jesus with desperate longing and need; he cured them all, and nine never came back to give thanks. So often, once a person gets what he or she wants, they never come back. What a painful experience to be on the receiving end of such selfish, egotistical behavior. Have you ever wondered what causes that?
The current level of detachment in our society could be a clue. We seem to be facing reality through a screen of some sort: iPhones, lap tops, iPads, computers, television, etc., all train us to take an almost inhuman step away from reality so as not to become too immersed in any real internal and integrated approach to life, you know, the way Jesus approached everyone in the Scriptures and how he deals with you and me right here, right now.
We can take our cue from the one leper who did, in fact, come back to give thanks to Jesus. He knew what happened to him. He knew what his healing meant for the rest of his life. He truly knew Who healed him. Can you imagine what kind of life he lived after that? Jesus gave us the answer: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Let us consider some ways to learn how to be grateful: