Spending an hour to say
 'thanks' to God

Thank you for being present at Mass this morning. There are endless tasks that need to be done at home, yet you have chosen to spend an hour here to say "thanks" to God. You remind me of the protagonists in todayís gospel wherein one person out of the many who were cured returns to Jesus to say thank you. Imagine, if you will, please, what words do you think Our Lord might say to you this morning in his gratitude to you for your being here?

Iíd like to make a brief comment on each of the readings, and then identify one gift for which we all might express gratitude.

Sirach say, "bless the God of all," praise the God of all, "who has done wondrous things on earth, and who fosters peopleís growth from their motherís womb." All of us marvel, I trust, at Godís artwork in his autumn colors. All of us marvel when we hold an infant in our arms.

St. Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians, "I give thanks to God for the grace he has bestowed in you through Christ Jesus." Actually, St. Paul begins all 13 of his letters with this same phrase. Paul possessed an "attitude of gratitude." May we cultivate that habit of saying thank you.

The gospel recounts the story of Jesusí healing of the ten lepers. Only one, a despised Samaritan returns to say, "thank you." Jesus asks, "Where are the other nine."

Iíd like to highlight one gift for which each of us ought to express profound gratitude. That is, the gift of life which our parents have given us. Where would we be without their act of love and creation, which they express in cooperation with Godís love and creation? We would not be here. It might sound simple to say this, but what is profound is also simple, in the philosophical sense: itís not complex, not multifaceted, it is one, foundational.

Iíd like to comment about child-bearing and child-raising. Thatís a topic about which I know very little; I want to say that before you say it. It is not easy; it requires much selfless sacrifice, time at very inconvenient hours of the day and night; anxiety for each child and his/her individual needs. While it costs much, metaphorically and literally, to raise children, a lifetime of joy and gratitude, and occasional heartache and headache, proceeds from any birth. All of us, today and all days, letís speak a profound word of gratitude to our parents, living or deceased, for the life which they have given us.

I meet many couples who would love to have had more children, and for one reason or not, were not able to. The fact of conception which we take for granted, and under our control, always involves the hand of God. There is much mystery about conception: one out of six couples cannot conceive. How many miscarriages occur, about which most of us hear very little. Among the deceased of the parish this past year, are three infants. We seem to take new life for granted, but all of us owe a most sincere expression of gratitude to God and to our parents for the gift of life.

Single people and celibate people, we have no children; that is not our vocation. Letís do our best to assist the parents of children. Oftentimes, we have a few extra dollars, and a few extra hours in our days. Letís ponder what we can do to assist parents.

And now, I wish to conclude as I began. "Thank you for being present at Mass this morning. There are endless tasks that need to be done at home, yet you have chosen to spend an hour here to say "thanks" to God. Thank you.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley