There are many saints and saintly people whom I love and wish to be like: Peter, Thomas, Francis, The Little Flower, Mother Theresa and the spiritual writers I so avidly read. But I fall short. Therefore, what I wish in the least is to be like the leper who returned.
Through the saints, writers and saintly people I know You cleanse me daily. It is at least for me to return thanking and seeking. If I fail at everything else, I do not want to fail at being grateful. To actually be grateful, to me, means far more than thanking You. It’s something I show by the way I live my life. I don’t doubt that the other nine lepers were thankful, but only the one did something about it. Gratitude for being cleansed of that fatal disease, just as gratitude for the gift of my life and all life, is an ongoing demonstrable process. Maybe that’s why You were a little taken aback when only one returned to express gratitude and You said, “Where are the other nine?” Did they think that being made clean was owed them? Is this what I think?
The concern You showed for those ten, not only in healing them but in their responses to being healed is a paradigm for our relationship with You. It extends even further to our relationships with each other. If the life of the spirit is characterized preeminently by love, then we must comprehend the fundamental connection of gratitude to love. Like the one in ten, it means making the effort or going out of one’s ordinary way to acknowledge an aspect of a relationship that is new – and doing this over and over again.