C.S. Lewis, observing the connection between gratitude and personal well-being wrote: “I noticed how the humblest and at the same time most balanced minds praised most; while the cranks, misfits, and malcontents praised least. Praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.”
Do you remember what happened in the gospel story? Jesus was approached by ten sick people who wanted his help. They had leprosy, and they wanted to be healed. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests, and as they went, they found themselves healed.
Now, they were ALL healed. Did you notice that? Not just the Jewish ones. Not just righteous ones. Not just the ones who would remember to say thank you. Not just the ones who had faith. But only one of the former lepers turned back to praise God and thank Jesus. All we really know about him is that he recognized a gift when he saw it and experienced it, that he returned to say, “thank you,” and that Jesus said to him, “Your faith has made you well.”
Remember, ALL of the former lepers were made CLEAN. They would all show themselves to the priests and be restored to the community. But only the one who came back to praise God and thank Jesus was made WELL. Another possible translation of the Greek phrase in this story could be: “Your faith has saved you.”
I don’t think that Jesus was just talking about the fact that the man’s skin was clear again. He was talking about wellness, about salvation, about the kind of wholeness of life that comes from an attitude of praise and gratitude to God for every sign of God’s grace and mercy.
In a pastoral reflection, Kimberly Bracken Long explains our gospel story in this way:
Jesus is teaching about the nature of faith. In short, to “have faith” is to live it, and to live it is to give thanks. It is living a life of gratitude that constitutes living a life of faith—THIS is the grateful sort of faith that has made this man from Samaria truly and deeply well.