St. Luke 17.vv.11-19

~ On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!". When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests". And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked , "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?". Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way, your faith has made you well". ~

Shakespeare: "Blow, blow thou winter wind/Thou art not so unkind/As man's ingratitude/Thy tooth is not so keen/Because thou art not seen/Although thy breath be rude/".

We all know the piercing cold of winter wind and we all loathe ingratitude, for it bites like a cold wind and fills us with dismay.

How often we hear the reaction. "Well! after all I've done ... I'll never ... That's the last time ..."

In St. Luke 17.vv.11-19 we hear of Jesus healing ten lepers of whom only one (and he a Samaritan, an outsider politically and religiously) returned to give thanks for his healing.

We feel shocked and scandalised by this inability or unwillingness to say "thank you".

The nine demonstrated how easy it is to gain what we want and to give no further thought to the Giver (for all healing comes from the Father). Perhaps they had not realised it was God's gift? Perhaps they were too excited or too shy? We don't know, but we know Jesus was concerned about their ingratitude.

The one who returned to give thanks demonstrated a loving and grateful heart.

And what of us? Do we always take the trouble to say thank you? When we go abroad do we ensure that if we have no other word in our vocabulary we at least know "thank you" in our hosts' tongues? Do we remember God when ill and forget Him when we are made whole? All too often are we not unthinking unthankful people who take for granted God's gifts?

Or do we thank God daily for our food in grace before meat? and Harvest time? Do we thank God for the ability to walk, for our eyes to see the beauty of the created world, for our ears to hear music and conversations, our tongues to speak, the sense of smell?

Do we thank God for families and friends? for his providence and never failing presence in our lives - in sorrow and in joy?

Someone, a confirmed atheist, once said, "What a lovely day this is - if only there were a God to whom I could say "Thank you" for it!"

A short while ago I had occasion to wait for someone at a local hospital. As I often do on such occasions, I went into the Chapel to sit at the table, to read the Chapel literature, to pray and meditate. As I sat there a young man came into the Chapel. When he saw me, he slowed down perceptibly, as if not sure whether he should be there. Knowing that people use the Chapel to pray for themselves and others, I did not look towards him respecting his privacy. After a few minutes he prepared to go and passed quite close to me. Simply to be friendly I asked him, "All well?". He beamed all over his face and said, "Yes, thank you. I came in to say thank you, I've just come from the Maternity Ward where my wife has given birth to our first baby - a little girl". "All has gone well?" I asked. "Yes", he replied. "It's a lovely thing", I said, "to come and say thank you for this gift. I happen to be a Priest (for I wore no clerical collar) I would like to say "thank you" with you and for your wife and child". "I'm afraid", said he, "that I probably shouldn't be here because I don't attend Church, though I believe in Jesus Christ". "Where better", I said, "than here in Chapel, thanking God for the gift?" We spoke for a little while longer to our mutual joy and parted with happy memories of a joyful encounter.

When we come to Church as Christian people we meet together to say thank you for the greatest gift of all - the gift of God's only Son. The Greek word for thanksgiving is "Eucharistia". We come to Eucharist or Holy Communion to say thank you to God for all his love and blessings bestowed upon us.

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