The readings today talk about gratitude, the gratitude that Naaman the Syrian showed the prophet Elisha and the gratitude that one of the ten healed lepers showed the Lord. These were miraculous events. In both cases, lepers were cured and saved from a life of suffering and scorn. God’s hand was experienced in tremendous, awe-inspiring ways. Gratitude should be given to God for his powerful intervention.
Gratitude should also be given to God for the simple events of life. We should have gratitude to God for the people who love us and whom we love, for the happiness that we receive from others and are able to bring to others, for the joy of laughing over the antics of a child and those of a dear elderly senior.
We have so much to be thankful for. Consider where we live, here in Florida. People from around the world spend thousands and thousands of dollars to pass a few days in our neighborhood. We live in an area where we can enjoy some of the most beautiful gifts of nature for free. We look out our windows in the evening and experience world class sunsets. We can jump into a car and take a walk on the beach. Families whose budgets may be tight spend nothing to go out to Howard Park, or Anderson Park, Chestnut Park, Clearwater Beach, etc. Those who retire here can keep active, getting out of their houses twelve months a year. They are not cooped up like they would be up North after the snows and ice come. They notice that to a large extent they are healthier than their contemporaries up north.
We should thank God for his daily intervention in our lives.
I want to share with you a beautiful piece of wisdom that an elderly parishioner once shared with me. He said, "When I was young, and I drove somewhere and had to slam on my breaks to avoid an accident I would say, 'I was lucky that I wasn't killed.' Now that I am older I say, 'I am blessed that I was not killed.'"
That is the wisdom of a person who recognizes the hand of God in his life.
It seems that sometimes when we want something, and we pray to God for it, and our prayer is answered, we say, 'I sure was lucky." For example, a young man may pray to God that he meet a person to marry. He is invited to go to a party, but decides not to. Then, at the last moment he changes his mind and goes to that party. And Sally Special is there. Then the young man says to himself "I sure was lucky that I decided to come to this party." Luck had nothing to do with it. God did. Or a lady may pray to God to help her with a sickness of unknown cause. But when a visiting physician at a hospital suggests a diagnosis that is successful, the lady says, "I sure was lucky that the visiting physician passed through this hospital." Again, luck has nothing to do with it. God does answer prayers. We need to thank God for his presence in our lives just as Naaman needed to thank him, just as all ten lepers needed to thank him.
Every week, at least, we receive the Eucharist. The word Eucharist means "to give thanks". We thank God for all He has done and is doing for us. We thank God for the prayers that have been answered the way we wish they would be answered, and for the prayers that have been answered in ways different than we have asked.
Perhaps it would be good for all of us to reflect today on the greatest blessings we have received in our lives, and thank God for each of them.