Gospel Reflection for the
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Naaman is Surprised into Gratitude
Today’s first reading offers a perfect illustration of how to receive the gifts of God with gratitude.
Naaman is an officer in the Syrian army. He’s an effective commander and has won many victories. But there’s one battle he cannot win – leprosy. His wife, however, has a Jewish serving girl who tells him that there’s a prophet in Israel who can cure him, and, buoyed by this hope, Naaman goes to see him.
When he arrives though, the prophet tells him to do something strange. He says “Go and wash in the Jordan River 7 times, and you will be healed.” This sounds ridiculous to Naaman, and he only acquiesces after his servants remind him that he has nothing to lose. He jumps into the Jordan 7 times and is healed.
Like the Samaritan in today’s gospel, he recognizes the wonderful thing God has done for him, and he gives thanks to God. He also thanks the prophet and gives him gifts. He didn’t take the gift for granted; he received it with gratitude, and it changed his life.
Simply Saying Thank You
God wants us to develop the virtue of gratitude because he wants us to experience the joy that comes from knowing we are loved by him without limits or conditions. But, like every virtue, gratitude can only grow if we exercise it.
How can we exercise gratitude? There is nothing easier. All we have to do is say thank you – and mean it. And it is never too late to say thank you. In fact, the sweetness of gratitude, like the taste of wine, only improves over time.
We have all received a note of thanks at some time in our life, long after we had performed the favor. When that thank you note arrives, it warms our heart, because it shows that our action lasted, that someone was thinking of us long after the favor was done. This week, let’s warm someone else’s heart by saying thank you. We owe a debt of gratitude to so many people:
our parents, first of all;
our teachers and coaches, and all those people who dedicated themselves to us in our years of education;
our first boss, who was patient with us and gave us a second chance;
the relative or neighbor who inspired us with their good example;
the soldiers who have fought to protect our freedom;
the police, firefighters, and statesmen who dedicate themselves to keeping our communities safe and prosperous;
the authors of those books that have given us joy and inspiration…
Jesus has reminded us today that gratitude is a Christian virtue, that his followers should spread the aroma of gratitude in this thankless world, for our own good, and for the good of those around us.
Today, let’s promise him that this week we’ll follow his directions.
(from ePriest – October 2019)