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Breath of the Spirit: Seeking Gratitude...and Patience

Don’t we always wonder with Jesus, “What happened to the ‘other nine’?” We instinctively assume that we would have made the time to return. Perhaps we would have, but so often in our own lives, the gratitude we intended to express gets buried in a barrage of busyness. Today’s reflection invites us to prioritize our thankfulness, trusting that the more gratitude we express, the more we will notice even more reasons to be grateful.

 

October 9, 2022: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

2 Kings 5:14-17

Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

2 Timothy 2:8-13

Luke 17:11-19

Seeking Gratitude…and Patience

A reflection by Thomas DeVoyd

The theme of the readings comes to me as, “With God all things are possible.” I think that this is very true. It goes back to us having faith in God to help us when we need it most. I think that I have improved in this area. I trust God will answer my prayer when I need it most.

One of the things I have seen is that many people see God as a magician. “Nothing up my sleeve: Presto!” I listen to Catholic prayers on YouTube before I go to sleep and I always come across those that say, “Pray this prayer and God will answer you in 3 minutes” (or 5, or some very short length of time). I know in my heart this is not true and skip over them. God answers when God decides and not when we want God to do so. We need to be patient and trusting.

The gospel recalls Jesus’ healing of the 10 lepers. Leprosy was a terrible disease in Jesus’ time. Those that had it were shunned and could not be near people. It was their Covid, in a sense. When Covid first became known, that is what most of the world did. We separated those with Covid from those without. We told people they needed to stay home whether they had it or not. Then we added the caveat … “unless you are an essential worker.” I am a nurse, so I was essential. I understood the reason they did not want me to stay home. I did not like the isolation. Eventually I got Covid. I had a very mild case, praise God, but the 10 days were brutal. I was not able to see my mom, I got sick of movies and television. I could only attend mass via television or social media (which had already been going on for months). I noticed that the people I worked with also felt the strain. My mom, God love her, went to the store for me almost every day while I was sick (She’s stubborn that way). We wore masks, gowns, and gloves to try to keep the disease at bay. It never seemed to work. We felt wave after wave of the sickness consuming us. We felt abandoned. Families would call not understanding the reason isolation was so important. Perhaps this isolation gives us some sense of the desperation felt by the lepers in Jesus’ day.

Another theme in the readings is gratitude. As the precautions against Covid have begun to wane, I have felt very grateful. In the readings, when Naaman was cured of leprosy, he tried to give Elisha rewards, which the prophet refused. Naaman then gave the prophet what was truly needed: gratitude. Do we say thank you enough? I do not think so. We tend to skip over this essential part of our prayer, or our lives. We will thank someone who gives us a gift personally (it would be very impolite not to), but if someone gives us a gift and it is not directly in front of us, do we skip the “thank you?” Famously, when Jesus heals the lepers, only one returned to express thankfulness. He was so grateful that he threw himself at Jesus’ feet. The lone grateful leper was a Samaritan, a group despised by the Jews of Jesus’ day. What might it have said to Jesus’ followers that the only one to express gratitude was such an outsider?

Looking at the LGBTQIA+, do we put our trust in God? For some, the answer is no. They may believe that God is against them, does not accept them, or has given up on them. God has not. Have we given up on ourselves? Have we given up on God? Paul notes in today’s letter to Timothy, “If we disown God, God disowns us.” I believe God has nothing but love for me–and for all people!

So how do I become more grateful? I pray about it a lot. I make it a theme of rosaries, and I try to thank those around me. When someone does something to help me, I try to notice and say thank you. I am even trying to get in the habit of writing (not emailing) those who have sent me things. It really is not hard. The isolation, which we seem to have gotten used to a bit, has made it easier for me. We could all try to be more grateful for the gifts we receive and express that gratitude more freely. And we can be grateful knowing with God all things…even hearts filled with gratitude…are possible.

 

Tom DeVoyd is a nurse in long term care and works with resident with Dementia. He is an advocate for his residents and has a Masters’ Degree in Nursing in Adult Psych/ Mental Health. He is also an advocate for the LGBTQI+ community. Tom currently lives in a small town in NH with his partner of years Phil. He enjoys reflecting on the scriptures, and focusing on the world of when the scriptures were written.

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