Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“The Best Remedy is Gratitude!”
I want to start with something funny. I heard about three Catholic ladies who boasted about their sons. One lady said, “My son is a priest. When he walks into the room and talks to the people, people call him, ‘Father.”’ The other lady says, “My son is a bishop. When he walks into the room and talks to the people, people say, ‘Your Grace.’” The third lady said, “My son is a broadcaster, six feet and three inches tall, is incredibly good-looking, and dresses impressively. When he walks in and talks to people, all the ladies say, ‘Oh my God!’”
How proud of your children are you? Do you pray for your children as much as you are proud of them? I met a couple in South Korea. They have two sons. The first son was a troublemaker. Wherever he went, problems always followed him. He didn’t like to study. He always went against his parents and teachers.
On the other hand, their second son was picture-perfect. He always obeyed his parents and teachers. He was the president of the student body at his school. He was in first place in his writing, drawing, singing, and even sports studies. Wherever he went, the prize always followed him. “When we think of the second son,” the couple said, “we feel boastful and arrogant, but when we think of the first son, we feel humble. We do not know what we can do for our first son. We believe God gave us two sons not to live in arrogance, but to live humbly and faithfully.”
I know it is not only true in this couple’s case. There may be similar cases among you. Many parents, who had several children, may have had both good and troubled kids. They are, perhaps, your painful fingers. An issue of the most troubled child might be that they want to be recognized by their parents, or the people around them, as “beloved ones.” They are the gifts from God, who you and the people around them should love. I want to tell you the best remedy is “love” and “gratitude.” Whether your child is well behaved and follows your rules or goes against you, give glory to God, and give thanks to God because they are given to you by God. When you embrace them with love and gratitude first, the world will also be restored to see your children as the children of God. In other words, your love and gratitude cure not only your child, but those who interact with your child. Furthermore, it heals the world and transforms the world.
However, be careful. I am not saying that you should be an interfering busybody for your children, but I’m saying that you should encourage their dreams and support them with love and gratitude. As you may know, either way, too much care and indifference may lead them to be troubled individuals. Remember that your children are God’s loved ones, good or troubled. The best way you can encourage them is to make sure they know that they are loved by you and by God.
Recently, many people have excessively loved or had too much concern for their children and grandchildren, treating them like “gods” in their consciousness. The way you put others in your first place may lead your life into trouble because you belong to God. What comes first in your life? Or, who comes first in your life? Please remove other gods from being first in your life and only put Jesus Christ first as our Lord.
We confess that we believe in Jesus Christ and love God and our neighbors. However, think of it as our confession moving according to our situation. If our family members, our children, and great children are happy and healthy, we may “give thanks to God.” On the other hand, if our family members and our children are not valued, if they give us concern, are you still giving “thanks” to God for them? In other words, if you receive a gift, would you focus on the gift or the person who gives you the gift?
In today’s scripture, there is a famous story about a healed leper who says, “Thank you.” The Israelites thought “leprosy” was one of the cursed diseases. The people who had leprosy were outcasts from the society, community, and even from their family. They lived outside of town. They lived between Samaria and Galilee, faith and unfaith, human beings and unhuman beings. Israelites didn’t treat them as humans. If anyone comes to them because the one doesn’t know their illness, the leper should shout, “I am unclean; I am unclean.” They couldn’t come close to other people, even to their family members, by law. When they were healed, they had to show their bodies to the priest first. Then, the priest allowed them to go back to their family, community, and society. Is there anyone who we can outcast? Is there anyone afraid of showing up to our church family? The church should be a safe place to share our stories praising God.
In today’s case, the lepers also lived between Samaria and Galilee, which are on the border and do not belong to any villages. “On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him, but kept distance” (17:11-12). Jesus knew that his way toward Jerusalem was for the crucified. He intentionally stopped by the village of lepers while most people avoided them. Jesus is such a great God who loves everyone and gives everyone opportunities. Then, the lepers didn’t miss the chance to see Jesus, Master. They shouted, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” They shouted because of the long distance and also because of their urgency, which might be the first and last chance. Jesus saw them and said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Jesus didn’t give them any gesture or sign of healing them, but paid attention to see them, saying, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” The lepers knew what was meant by that. They didn’t doubt him because they knew who Jesus was. They believed Jesus was “the Master,” who controls everything. And as they went to the priests, they were made clean. Then, one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He bowed down at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. Jesus made clear all ten of the lepers, but only one came back to him and said, “Thank you.” Jesus asked, “Where are the nine?”
Well, they were, perhaps, too busy going back home to see their people and family. They may have been busy going back to their society. Jesus gave ten people the same gift, but only one focused on Jesus, who gave it to them, while the others forgot who gave them the gifts, and they just enjoyed the gift. Yes, they believed Jesus was the Master, the Healer, and the Savior. That’s a big part of faith.
What is different between the one leper who returned to Jesus and the others? Yes, the one who returned to Jesus said, “Thank you.” In other words, he practiced his faith; “Praising God with a loud voice, and he bowed down at Jesus’ feet, and thanked him.” And then, Jesus said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Faith believes in God’s pardon and says, “Thank you.” We may grow in faith by being appreciative and saying “Thank you.” How often do you tell others “thank you”? How often do you tell God “thank you”? Who knows, Jesus may pay attention to you! Ask God what for you need, and give thanks in advance. It is time to say “thank you” to people and God. The best remedy for everything is gratitude. Especially give thanks to God for your family. Your gratitude may heal you, your family, our church, and society. Thanks be to God. Amen!