Grateful

November 10, 2021
Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 82 considered, by at least one Biblical scholar, to be:

“the single most important text in the entire Christian Bible.”

John Domenic Crossan, an Irish-American New Testament scholar,
historian of early Christianity, and former Catholic priest

Council of the Gods by Raphael, (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Psalm 82 best summarizes for me the character of (the early Biblical) God.
It imagines a scene in which God sits among the gods and goddesses in divine council.
Those pagan gods and goddesses are dethroned not just because they are pagan,
nor because they are other, nor because they are competition.
They are dethroned for injustice, for divine malpractice, for transcendental malfeasance.
They are rejected because they do not demand and effect justice among the peoples of the earth.
And that justice is spelled out as protecting the poor from the rich,
protecting the systemically weak from the systemically powerful.

excerpts from Crossan: The Birth of Christianity

Rise up, O God, bring judgment to the earth.
Defend the lowly and the fatherless;
    render justice to the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the lowly and the poor;
    from the hand of the wicked deliver them.
Psalm 82: 3-4


In today’s Gospel, we encounter this just and supreme God in the person of Jesus when we witness the cure of the ten lepers.  

You know, it would be startling enough to run into one leper on your daily walk, right?  But TEN! That must have been an astounding situation. And to see those sad, disfigured people restored to wholeness must have been nearly overwhelming for the entourage accompanying Jesus.

Can you imagine that the recipients of such a miracle wouldn’t have clung in gratitude to Jesus for the rest of their days??? But, wow, only one even bothered to say “Thank you”.

What might have kept the other nine away,
locked in their blind ingratitude?

Perhaps it’s not such a mystery if we allow ourselves to examine our own often ungrateful hearts. We don’t necessarily mean to be boorish in the face of God’s kindness and the generosity of others, but we sometimes suffer from …

  1. Distraction: our lives are filled with frenetic activity which causes our blessings to flit by us into dizzying forgetfulness
  2. Entitlement: we think we deserve or have earned those blessings
  3. Self-absorption: we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we don’t even notice that our whole life is a gift
  4. Laziness: we might say thanks if we get around to it. But we never get around to it.
  5. Unresolved anger: we’re mad that we even needed help
  6. Non-intentionality: we fail to live with intention and reflection, thus missing the opportunities for gratitude 
  7. Pride: we are too proud to acknowledge that we need anything
  8. Fear: we are afraid something will be required of us in return for the gift
  9. Spiritual blindness: we just don’t see the nurturing power of God and others in our life

It’s likely that our nine ungrateful lepers had these human frailties. But don’t be thinking about them, or your acquaintances who share their failings.  

Let’s think about ourselves and how we want to be more grateful. Let’s think about our omnipotent God who is always Justice and Mercy.

The story is a powerful wake-up call to do better than the poor lepers did by living this prayer:

May I live humbly and gratefully today.


Poetry: The Ten Lepers – by Rosanna Eleanor (Mullins) Leprohon who was both a poet and novelist. Born in Montreal in 1829, Rosanna Mullins was educated at the convent of the Congregation of Notre Dame.

’Neath the olives of Samaria, in far-famed Galilee,
Where dark green vines are mirrored in a placid silver sea,
’Mid scenes of tranquil beauty, glowing sun-sets, rosy dawn,
The Master and disciples to the city journeyed on.

And, as they neared a valley where a sheltered hamlet lay,
A strange, portentous wailing made them pause upon their way—
Voices fraught with anguish, telling of aching heart and brow,
Which kept moaning: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us now!”

Softly raised the gentle Saviour His eyes like midnight star,
And His mournful gaze soon rested on ten lepers, who, afar,
Stood motionless and suppliant, in sackcloth rudely clothed,
Poor Pariahs! by their nearest, their dearest, shunned and loathed.

Not unto Him prayed vainly those sore afflicted ten,
No! He yearned too fondly over the erring sons of men,
Even sharing in their sorrows, though He joined not in their feasts,—
So He kindly told the Lepers: “Show yourselves unto the priests.”

When, miracle of mercy! as they turned them to obey,
And towards the Holy Temple quickly took their hopeful way,
Lo! the hideous scales fell off them, health’s fountains were unsealed,
Their skin grew soft as infant’s—their leprosy was healed.

O man! so oft an ingrate, to thy thankless nature true,
Thyself see in those Lepers, who did as thou dost do;
Nine went their way rejoicing, healed in body—glad in soul—
Nor once thought of returning thanks to Him who made them whole.

One only, a Samaritan, a stranger to God’s word,
Felt his joyous, panting bosom, with gratitude deep stirred,
And without delay he hastened, in the dust, at Jesus’ feet,
To cast himself in worship, in thanksgiving, warm and meet.

Slowly questioned him the Saviour, with majesty divine:—
“Ten were cleansed from their leprosy—where are the other nine?
Is there none but this one stranger—unlearned in Gods ways,
His name and mighty power, to give word of thanks or praise?”

The sunbeams’ quivering glories softly touched that God-like head,
The olives blooming round Him sweet shade and fragrance shed,
While o’er His sacred features a tender sadness stole:
“Rise, go thy way,” He murmured, “thy faith hath made thee whole!”


Music:  Hymn of Grateful Praise – Folliott S. Pierpoint

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