When I was young and we visited the dentist or doctor’s office there would always be a copy of Highlights Magazine in the waiting room. In it I loved to read the comic strip “Goofus and Gallant”.
In the comic, two boys are given a situation in life in which they need to respond.
Goofus would always do the thing we knew to be wrong while Gallant would respond with the right value called for, be it telling the truth, helping a neighbor, or saying thank you. Figuring out the right thing to do in the examples did not take rocket science, and yet, we all knew as we read the comic strip, that we occasionally acted more like Goofus than Gallant.
In today’s Gospel Jesus comes into the lives of ten lepers and answers their prayers by lovingly healing them. If this happened to us, we all would know the right thing to do. What Gallant would do. Return and give thanks. This is not difficult to understand. Yet I know there are times when Jesus is present in my life, when he answers my prayers or heals my brokenness and I am too busy, too distracted, or have already moved on to my next need or worry to even acknowledge His miraculous presence in my life. Giving thanks requires me to slow down, to pay attention and to humbly accept that God loves me so much that He desires to be part of my life.
I think there is also more to the Gospel than the basic value of gratitude. Jesus’s love acted very powerfully in the lives of the 10 through their healing, and yet only one chose not just to give thanks, but to return to Christ in a more meaningful way.
We have been given much by Our Lord and our hearts should respond with giving thanks, but also by returning to Christ with more than just our words. The Gospel says the leper returned, fell at Jesus’s feet and thanked him.
What might that look like for us? Maybe in this year of faith returning to Our Lord could include reading the bible more, spending time in front of the blessed sacrament, or receiving the sacraments more often. Then we would truly be responding with our hearts and our lives to the way He heals us in our life.
Steve Walsh is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre ,and a good friend of the Passionist Community.