Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh


21 December 1980
Theme: Gospel parables, Healing   Place: London Parish   Period: 1976-1980   Genre: Sermon

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Today’s Gospel reading (Luke 17,11-19) is about gratitude, a quality which should be so natural and yet which is so seldom met with amongst us.

In a certain medieval catechism everything that is said about God in the Holy Scriptures is summarised under “faith”, and every­thing that we so often refer to as our “duty” to God, to our fellow men, to ourselves, is collected under the beautiful heading “Our Gratitude.” And indeed, if in truth God is what He is, if He is what we know Him to be in His dealings with us, in His mercy, His endless patience, His responsiveness, the way in which He revealed Himself to us and gave His life for us, then what remains for us but just to live in gratitude, in such a way that God should rejoice in us? And that could be the final word.

If only we could be filled with wonder at what God is like, and respond with thanksgiving! If only we could be filled with wonder at the amount of love and care that is given us by people, and from gratitude respond by living in such a way as to make their lives easy, to turn then into a festival! We must pause to think about this because we are so richly endowed, and we live so meanly.

Let us consider the story in today’s Gospel. Ten lepers came to Christ, unclean people who had no right even to approach Him or to touch Him. Christ cured them, and only one returned to thank Him and give glory to God, and that was a stranger, not “one of us”. It is a terrifying thought that we are so rich in the knowledge of God, His grace, His gifts, and yet in our attitude to all that He gives us, calmly cold. But sometimes a person who is deprived comes along, a stranger, not one of us, who would give all that he possesses for one moment of what we have all our lives. And he knows how to give thanks. How perverse everything is!

We should be a society that lives in wonder about God, in gratitude, with the desire to please Him and comfort our neighbour. That is all that we would need to do. May God give us a living, responsive heart, a grateful heart capable of giving thanks not only in words but with our whole lives. Amen.

Published: Newsletter N. 128, February 1981

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