08 October 2016

BE GRATEFUL… IT PAYS!

XXVIII SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
2 kings 5:14-17; 2 timothy 2:8-13; luke 17:11-19

recently, i came across two studies on the effects of gratitude.
one study examined the effects of writing letters of gratitude on happiness, life-satisfaction, and depression. the results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction, and decreased depressive symptoms [cf. journal of happiness studies, «letters of gratitude: further evidence for author benefits»].
in the second study, participants were assigned to one of three experimental conditions: hassles, gratitude listing, and neutral life events. they kept daily/weekly records of their moods, coping behaviours, health, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. the gratitude-outlook group exhibited heightened well-being across several outcome measures [cf. personality and social psychology journal, «counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life»].
the bottom-line: being grateful has emotional benefits; gratitude pays!

this evidence from experimental psychology confirms similar evidence from scripture! the first reading and the gospel are stories of the healing and gratitude of two lepers.
acting on the word of elisha, naaman, the syrian afflicted with leprosy, is cured. he returns to give elisha thanks and a gift. when elisha refuses the gift, naaman takes back some earth to build a shrine to the LORD. he recognises not only the healing but also the healer. 
acting on the word of jesus, ten lepers are cured. only one, a samaritan, returns «glorifying GOD in a loud voice» to thank jesus. 
the gratitude of both «foreigners» is more than a simple act of politeness; it is an authentic profession of faith in the saving power of GOD. 


this time, the anecdote at the end! 
a man, seeking refuge from a storm, stumbled upon a barn. he discovered that this was the devil’s storehouse of seeds. he was curious! he lit a match and began exploring. the majority of the bins were labelled «seeds of discouragement.»
just then one of the devil’s helpers arrived to pick up a load of seeds. the man asked him the reason for the abundance of discouragement seeds. the helper laughed and replied: «they are very effective and they take root quickly.» the man asked: «do they grow everywhere?» the devil’s helper said in sullen disgust: «no! they never grow in the heart of a grateful person.»
this may be just a legend but it points to a pay-off: grateful people are seldom discouraged.

am i grateful to GOD (and to his instruments/mediators) for his numerous blessings and graces? how do i manifest gratitude to GOD and others? for what am i grateful today?