I’ve long been fascinated by the Lucan narrative of Jesus’ cleansing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11–19). Jesus healed all ten, but only one returns to thank and worship him. As catechetical leaders, we often experience Jesus’ healing presence through our ministry. How often do we return to him to express our gratitude?
Jesus heals us of apathy and transforms our experience.
Children help us see the world through a clear, new lens. Think of the many delightful ways that catechists help students “see” Jesus in imaginative ways and love him more deeply. I recently observed a catechist lead a lesson on transubstantiation for a class of third graders. One boy (whose t-shirt was emblazoned with a Batman logo) excitedly exclaimed, “Oh, I get it! When the priest does this during Mass (mimics the epiclesis), then POW! The Holy Spirit shoots through his hands and the bread and wine become Jesus!” The entire class spontaneously responded with an enthusiastic “Oooohhhh!!!” as they all performed the motion of epiclesis.
Indeed! What a marvelous way to visualize the “superpower” of the Holy Spirit. It transformed an entire class from mildly to wildly interested. To this day, that catechist and I still smile throughout the entire Consecration of the Eucharist. It is our way of returning to Jesus in gratitude to worship him.
Jesus heals us of selfishness.
It’s an inevitable part of ministry: At some point we all feel a little (or a lot) tired. Perhaps a couple of students were a bit too rambunctious. Or the stories of struggle and loss that parents share with us are weighing heavily on our hearts. The thing is, when we feel fatigued, we can also become selfish, blind to the needs of others. We may distance ourselves out of a sense of self-preservation.
When this happens to me, I find it marvelous that just as Jesus noticed, responded to, and healed the ten lepers, he does the same for me whenever I call out to him in prayer. As I return to my ministry duties refreshed and restored, I offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the strength to once again be present to others in Jesus’ name.
St. Ambrose stated, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” St. John Paul II encouraged us to, “Remember the past with gratitude. Live the present with enthusiasm. Look forward to the future with confidence.” Sacred Scripture is rich with lessons to help us maintain an “attitude of gratitude,” including “The Mission of the Seventy-Two” (Luke 10:1–22) and the letters of St. Paul (for example, Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Colossians 3:17).
Indeed, we have much to be thankful for, so take some time to express your gratitude to God for his healing presence. Don’t be one of the nine. Be the tenth.