And now bless the God of all,
who everywhere works great wonders, who fosters our growth from birth, and deals with us according to his mercy. May he give us gladness of heart, and may there be peace in our days in Israel, as in the days of old. May he entrust to us his mercy, and may he deliver us in our days!
Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness. They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness, and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power,
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
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.”
When I attended public school, I loved Thanksgiving. We did not have "Easter break," but "spring break." I did not wish everyone in sight a happy Easter. Valentine's Day came with all its own drama, and you could not wish someone either a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" without making some sort of political statement. But Thanksgiving, being a federal holiday, was universal to our student body. We had Thanksgiving break, and the day before that break, the whole school rang out with "Happy Thanksgivings" to everyone we saw. There were no reservations, no politics, no issues. Everyone understood that it was an inherent good to be thankful, and our extension of our well wishes (as well as our anticipation of a few days off from school) left the whole community in a lighter, more cheerful mood.
You would think it would be impossible to take issue with a wonderful holiday like Thanksgiving, however, taking issue with everything is something of a speciality of our modern world. Our modern disposition is to examine everything in light of what is owed to us rather than what has been given. Insisting on taking time for gratitude gets labeled as "toxic positivity" among some. As a result, we see a rise in anger, anxiety, and depression.
These attitudes take a mental, physical, and spiritual toll on us. Brain imaging shows that people with depression have different brain activity than those without it. By staying in a depressive state, the neural pathways that reinforce the contributing thought patterns and habits become reinforced, effectively keeping anyone in that downward spiral. An effective intervention, which appears on these brain images, is the practice of gratitude. Practicing gratitude literally rewires the brain, carving out new neural pathways, which steer our thoughts away from what keeps us trapped in a worsening depressive state. But this gratitude is not a feeling. This gratitude is an action. By changing the action, we change the thought. By changing the action and the thought, we change the feeling.
In today's Gospel, anyone can guess that the nine other lepers felt grateful that they were healed of their disease and had their lives back. However, they did not put their gratitude into action. Let us change our cycles of anger, anxiety, and depression in this modern age. It is documented that those who keep a gratitude journal, who write down ten different things they are grateful for each and every day, are happier and more emotionally resilient. Like the ten lepers, we each have a choice for how we are going to respond to God's gracious gifts. Let us respond by acting out our gratitude, through written acknowledgment, through vocal praise, and for thoughts turned toward what God has done.