How Do We Show Gratitude?

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

One of the most intriguing incidents in the early ministry of Jesus involved the cleansing of a leper. The Gospel of Mark (1: 40-45) records that a man with leprosy approached Jesus, knelt before him, and begged to be cured. Jesus, “moved with pity” cured the man but then “warned him sternly” not to tell anyone what had happened. “See that you tell no one anything,” Jesus demanded.
And then the unthinkable happened. The Gospel says that the man, completely ignoring Jesus’ instructions, “went away and began to publicize the whole matter.” As a result of his yapping about the miracle, Jesus could no longer minster there and had to withdraw to deserted places.
What an ungrateful wretch this man was! How could he disobey Jesus so quickly, so boldly, just after Jesus had performed a life-changing miracle for him? If I were Jesus, I would have been so angry! I would have been tempted to re-impose the leprosy upon the ingrate, just to teach him a lesson. But then, I’m not Jesus.
The incident prompts an examination of conscience. As we think about all the gifts God has given us, the miracles Jesus has worked in our lives, how do we respond? Hopefully, much better than the man in the Gospel. As we try to grow in gratitude, there are three steps to consider.
First, is to be aware of our blessings. As we travel life’s journey, we tend to take our blessings for granted, and we assume an air of entitlement. “We have a right to these things,” we say! And if we lose them, we’re prone to become angry and turn against God, thinking that somehow our rights had been violated. Awareness and humility are the building blocks of gratitude.
Second, is to take care of our gifts. If we really cherish our blessings, we take care of them. Our faith, our families, our friends, our health, our material resources – do we care for them as we should? Sometimes it’s through our own carelessness and neglect that we lose what we treasure.
Third, is to share our gifts. We are part of a human family and the wants and needs of our brothers and sisters are our wants and needs too. Jesus taught us that, in justice and charity, we have to share our resources with others. In so doing, God is praised and thanked!
Something to think about: Are you grateful for God’s blessings?