Rudyard Kipling was known to be a successful writer. A cynical US reporter found him one day and, in an attempt to embarrass him, said, ‘Mr Kipling, it has been suggested that you make as much as $100 for every word you write’. The reporter then pulled out a $100 not, handed it to Kipling and said, ‘Could you give me a $100 word?’ Kipling folded the note, put it in his pocket and said, ‘Thanks’.
Thanks, of course, is a $100 word. But it’s worth much more than that. It’s one of the two magic words that we teach children to say, along with ‘please’. And just as a parent is disappointed when the child fails to show basic manners, so Jesus too, appears a bit disappointed when only one leper returns to say thank you for being cured.
When a person doesn’t bother to say thank you it’s usually because they do not see the need. Whatever it is that has been done for them they consider it either to be their right or something of slight importance. Of course, that is usually because they have become desensitised to what’s going on around them; they have become jaded and prone to ingratitude.
Since you got up this morning, how many times have you uttered the phrase ‘thank you’? And how many times have you thanked God so far? What do you have to be thankful for and is it worth thanking God? Surely God knows?
The actual act of acknowledging our gratitude makes us more grateful because it makes us more aware of the reasons we have to be grateful and it allows us to enjoy the benefits of our privileged positions. Yet we often fail to thank God for our health until we are in danger of losing it. We scarcely think about the amount and the choice of food that is at our fingertips until we run out. And we often are unappreciative of people who make our lives fuller.
Eucharist mean thanksgiving. It is the act by which the Church gathers to hear God’s word, to thank God for all the blessing of our life in Christ and it is the privileged moment when we call upon the Holy Spirit to make us a grateful people worthy to share the body and blood of Christ.
But it would be a pity if we waited until we were inside a church before thanking those whose debt we are in. And that includes God.