แผนกคริสตศาสนธรรม อัครสังฆมณฑลกรุงเทพฯ



28th Sunday of the Year
2 Kings 5:14–17; 2 Timothy 2:8–13; Luke 17:11–19

Where the South begins
If the young are to become grateful, we must teach them.
Anumber of years ago
a Chicago high school student
went to Nicaragua during his summer vacation
to do volunteer work.
He accompanied a medical team to Wiwili,
a tiny mountain village.
Life in the village was primitive.

Most of the children
had no clothes and were inadequately fed.
The houses, built right on the ground,
were made from old lumber and banana leaves.
The medical team vaccinated the villagers
against polio, measles, and DPT.
Sometimes they had to turn children away
because they had already gotten the disease.
The high school boy found this
especially heartbreaking. He wrote:
“By the end of the first week of work,
I started feeling sorry—even guilty—
for the conditions these people lived in.
I became homesick and depressed.
“One night
I was sitting outside in the darkness.
I was thinking about home, my girlfriend,
and why I had volunteered.
I asked myself why people had to live like this.
Whose fault was it? Why did God permit it?
“Then I heard someone in the darkness.
It was José Santos, the schoolteacher
and the father of the family that I lived with.
He sat down next to me,
tilted his chair back against the wall,
and stared up at the sky.
“After a minute, he broken the silence, saying,
‘Isn’t it great!’
“I questioned what he said, and he repeated,
‘Isn’t it great—all that God has given us!’
His eyes were still staring up at the sky.
“I tilted my head and looked up.
I hadn’t noticed
that the sky was lit up with millions of stars.
“It was spectacular.
The two of us just sat there
looking up at the stars.
It was an experience I will never forget.
“The next morning I got up early to bathe.
Walking through the woods to the river
where we washed, I stopped to look around.
Everything was green.
The only sounds
were those of birds and running water.
“Then I remembered what Jose had said:
‘Isn’t it great—all that God has given us!’
At that moment I felt great.
Everything fell into place.
“Never before had I felt so thankful
for all that God had given me.
Never before had I felt so loved.
“As we vaccinated the villagers that day,
I had such a big smile on my face
that my cheeks actually hurt
toward the end of the afternoon.’’
Ilike that story.
It makes two important points.
First, it recalls the two groups of people
whom Jesus talks about in today’s gospel:
those who are grateful for God’s gifts to them
and those who are not.
Second, the story illustrates the point
that if children grow up to be ungrateful,
it’s probably because
they were never taught to be grateful.
The high school student in the story
became grateful
because José Santos taught him to be grateful.
Let’s take a closer look
at this latter point—
that if children grow up to be ungrateful,
it’s probably because
they were never taught to be grateful.
Some time ago
someone sent a letter to Ann Landers.
It contained an advertisement
for United Technologies Corporation
of Hartford, Connecticut,
clipped from the Wall Street Journal.
Ann reprinted the words of the ad
in her column. They read:
“Someone once asked a Southerner . . .
‘Where does the South actually begin?’
The Southerner said, proudly,
‘When you notice the children say,
“Yes, sir,’’ and “No, ma’am.’’ ’
“But good manners
are not a matter of geography.
There are as many polite children in Caribou,
Maine;Wichita, Kans.; and Tacoma,Wash.;
as there are in Natchez,Miss.
Children don’t learn politeness
from a postmark.
They learn it from a parent.
“You’ll know
you’ve done a good job of teaching
when your child says, ‘Thank you
for teaching me to say, “Thank you.’’ ’ ’’
That ad says it all.
Gratitude is something
that parents must teach their children.
And one of the best ways
to teach gratitude to children
is the way Jose Santos taught
the Chicago high school student.
He shared with him
his own reasons for being grateful to God.
Another example of this kind of sharing
is provided by Byron Dell.
Byron grew up on a farm in Nebraska.
When he was eight years old,
he had a pony named Frisky.
Sometimes the pony lived up to its name.
One morning when Byron was getting the cows,
Frisky bolted off at a breakneck speed.
Byron held on for dear life,
and he emerged unhurt.
That night
Byron’s father accompanied him upstairs to bed
and asked his son to kneel with him
and thank God that he was not hurt.
There, beside Byron’s bed, the two knelt
as his father prayed out loud
a spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving to God.
That incident happened 55 years ago,
but Byron never forgot it.
It moved him deeply and gave him
a greater appreciation of his father.
Above all, it taught him to be grateful.
And ever since, he has made gratitude to God
a regular part of his life.
In conclusion, today’s gospel invites us
to ask ourselves two things.
First, to which group of people do we belong?
Do we belong to those who are grateful,
like the Samaritan?
Or do we belong to those who are ungrateful,
like the other nine lepers who were healed?
Second, if we are adults,
are we teaching our children
to be grateful to God?
Or is this something we are, perhaps,
overlooking in the rat race of modern life?
If we have overlooked it,
maybe we could set aside a minute
during the coming week at each evening meal
to have each family member give thanks to God
for some special thing that happened that day.
This may not fit our own family situation.
But what we do isn’t important.
What is important is that we do something
that will allow us to share with our children
our own gratitude to God for his gifts to us.
Let’s close with a very brief prayer to God
by the poet George Herbert:
“O God, you have given us so much.
Give us one thing more—a grateful heart.’’
(slightly paraphrased)

28th Sunday of the Year
2 Kings 5:14–17; 2 Timothy 2:8–13; Luke 17:11–19
Ungrateful yachtsman
We owe God so much; the least we can do is to give
Some years ago
a magazine carried an article about a man
who was fishing, one night,
out in a bay in a small rowboat.
It was late, and everything was quiet
except for a man
on the deck of a yacht anchored in the bay.
The man had been drinking and, occasionally,
bellowed out some incoherent sentence,
disturbing the stillness of the night.
The fisherman ignored him
and concentrated on his fishing.
Suddenly the fisherman heard a loud splash.
He turned and, in the moonlight,
saw that the man on the yacht
had toppled into the water.
Stripping off his jacket,
the fisherman dove into the water
and swam over to the man.
After incredible effort,
he managed to get the man back on his yacht.
It was then that the fisherman saw
that the man was barely breathing.
he gave the man artificial respiration
and got him breathing normally again.
When the man seemed to be all right,
the fisherman put him to bed on the yacht
and swam back to his tiny rowboat.
The next morning
the fisherman returned to the yacht
to see if the man needed any help.
The man was brusque and abusive.
At this point, the fisherman reminded him
that he had risked his life the night before
to pull him from the water and save him.
Instead of thanking the fisherman,
the man shouted at him
and ordered him off his yacht.
As the fisherman rowed away in his tiny boat,
his eyes filled up with tears.
He could not believe what had just happened.
Looking up to heaven,
he prayed in words like these:
“Lord, now I know how you must feel.
You gave your life to save us.
But, like the man on that yacht,
instead of thanking you,
we treated you like an enemy
and ordered you to leave us alone.
Now I know how you must feel, Lord!
Now I know!
And it breaks my heart!’’
After thinking about that story for a while,
two passages from Scripture come to mind.
The first is a well-known passage
from the prophet Isaiah.
It is often applied to Jesus to describe
how the world has responded
to his suffering and death. Isaiah writes:
We despised him and rejected him . . .
[and] ignored him as if he were nothing.
But he endured the suffering
that should have been ours,
the pain that we should have borne. Isaiah 53:3–4
The second Scripture passage that comes to mind
is today’s gospel,
where Jesus heals ten lepers
but only one—a non-Jew—returns to thank him.
And it is this passage, perhaps,
that most of us can relate to best.
Just as Jesus did so much for the ten lepers,
so he has done so much for us and our world.
And our response, for the most part,
is a lot like the response of the ten lepers.
Only one out of ten of us
takes the time to give thanks to Jesus.
And here, it is only fair to say
that the reason we don’t take time
to thank Jesus
is not because we are vile, or mean,
or defensive, like the man on the yacht.
Rather, it is simply because we get so involved
in our everyday lives
that we forget all about Jesus
and how much he does for us every day.
And this brings us to an important point.
How does all this apply in a practical way
to our lives?
What message do the stories of
the ungrateful man on the yacht and
the ungrateful lepers in the gospel
hold for us?
At the very least,
they invite us to take inventory of our lives
to see if we may be treating people around us
the way the man on the yacht
treated the fisherman.
At the very least,
these two stories invite us to ask ourselves
if we might be treating Jesus
with the same ingratitude
that the lepers expressed.
At the very least,
these two stories make us realize
that gratitude toward God—
and all God has given to us—
should not be shut up
and confined to one day a year.
it should extend to every day of the year.
At the very least,
these two stories invite us to pray this prayer:
“O Thou
who has given us so much,
mercifully grant us one thing more—
a grateful heart.’’ George Herbert
Let’s close
with this passage from the prophet Isaiah:
“Give thanks to the LORD! . . .
Tell all the nations what he has done.
Tell them how great he is!
Sing to the LORD because of the great things
he has done. Isaiah 12:4–5
In that spirit,
let’s now return to the Table of the Lord
to celebrate the Eucharist of the Lord.

28th Sunday of the Year
2 Kings 5:14–17, 2 Timothy 2:8–13, Luke 17:11–19
Gratitude must be heartfelt and expressed
in a heartfelt way.
Jesus said: “Why is this foreigner
the only one who came back
to give thanks to God? Luke 17:19
Dorothy Day
was an adult convert to Catholicism.
Her life story was the subject
of a Hollywood movie.
When she died at the age of 84,
the New York Times did not hesitate
to call her the most influential person
in the history of American Catholicism.
Since her death, there has been a movement
to canonize her, especially for her work
among New York’s poor and destitute.
Some time ago, America magazine
interviewed Eileen Egan,
who was a close friend of Dorothy.
One of the questions
the interviewer asked Eileen was,
“What is one thing, especially, that
stands out in your mind about Dorothy?”
Without hesitation, Eileen replied,
“Her spirit of gratitude.”
Eileen went on to give an example.
One cold day the two of them
were on a ferry boat.
Dorothy was wearing only a thin coat.
Fortunately, she had a newspaper.
So she wrapped it around her body,
under her coat.
As she did, she smiled and said,
“I thank the homeless for teaching me
this way of keeping warm.”
“Wherever Dorothy was,” Eileen added,
“she found something to be thankful for.
For example, Dorothy once said,
‘I’m so grateful Jesus lived on earth
that sometimes I feel like kneeling down
and kissing the ground, simply because
his feet touched it.’ ”
On the stone marker
over Dorothy’s grave on Staten Island,
two words appear next to her name:
Deo Gratias,
that is, “Thanks Be to God.”
Dorothy requested them herself.
The story of Dorothy Day
introduces us to the story
of the ten lepers in today’s Gospel.
Dorothy’s story
makes a fitting introduction to it,
because her story underscores
the two most important points about gratitude.
First, it must be heartfelt.
Second, it should be expressed
in a heartfelt way.
Dorothy’s gratitude to the homeless
for teaching her how to keep warm
and her gratitude to Jesus
for coming down to live on earth
are both heartfelt
and expressed in a heartfelt way.
In today’s Gospel the gratitude
of the nine lepers who failed to return
may have been heartfelt.We don’t know.
But we do know that only one returned
to express his gratitude in a heartfelt way.
He threw himself at the feet of Jesus.
Aclass of high school students was
preparing to discuss today’s Gospel.
As a starting point for the discussion,
the teacher asked them to take a sheet
of paper and answer these two questions:
First, How long has it been
since you thanked one or both
of your parents for something?
Second,What did you thank them for?
I’d like to share with you two responses
from two of the students.
The first response reads:
The last time I remember thanking
one of my parents was about a week ago.
I thanked my mother for helping me
with some research work for school.
I know that she spent hours on it.
A week after I had turned in my paper,
she brought home some more material
on the subject, saying,
“This is just for your own
information on the subject.”
The response of a second student
reads as follows:
The last time I can recall thanking
one of my parents was a few weeks ago.
I was going out on a Saturday night
and was leaving my father at home alone,
because my mother died last summer.
Just before leaving,
I stopped and put my hand
on his shoulder in a loving way.
I didn’t say anything,
but I knew he understood that I was
thanking him for letting me go out.
Idon’t know about you, but I found those
two responses deeply moving.
In both cases
their gratitude was obviously heartfelt.
And in both cases
it was expressed in a warm, heartfelt way.
That brings us to this celebration
of the liturgy.
The stories of Dorothy Day,
the students, and the ten lepers
invite us to inventory our own gratitude
and how we express it.
For example, there’s a significant detail
in today’s Gospel story
that deserves our special attention.
It is Jesus’ comment that the leper
who returned was a Samaritan.
By this detail, Jesus implies
that the other nine were Jews.
They were family, so to speak.
You would expect them to show
gratitude toward one another,
but they didn’t.
So often this is also true of us.
When it comes to gratitude,
we often take our families for granted.
And, unfortunately, we often do the same
when it comes to God.
Someone said
that taking gratitude for granted—
or not expressing it—
is like winking at someone in the dark.
You know that you winked at them,
but they don’t know it.
And so, as we return to the altar,
we might take time during
the collection to thank God for sending
his Son to walk among us.
And we might show our gratitude
by consciously trying to celebrate
the Liturgy of the Eucharist,
which now follows, in a heartfelt way.
Some years ago, a priest
was giving a retreat to students
at St. Edward’s College in Texas.
Toward the end of the retreat
a girl came in with a poem
she had written to express her gratitude
to God for so many things. Let me read it:
What can I say as I walk my way,
Finding a smile and love each day?
What can I say as I live each day,
Wanting to share myself with you? . . .
What can I say to you, my God,
But that I love you from the heart?
What can I say to you, my God?
All I can think is, “Thank you, God!”
You have taught me
how to live and pray.
You always care
and won’t lead me astray.
What can I say to you, my God?
All I can think is, “Thank you, God!”
Lourdes Ruiz Arthur