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The Celebration of Holy Mass by Most Rev. Valerian Okeke with Rev. Fr. Benjamin Okala and other priests


SUNDAY MASS READINGS: First: 2 Kings 5: 14-17; Second: 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Gospel: Luke 17:11-19

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for the favours one has received. It is a positive feedback as well as the obligatory attitude that everybody should possess. According to Cicero, a Roman Philosopher, “Gratitude is the greatest of virtues and the parent of all the others.

Moreover, gratitude is expressed in both words and actions. But the actual gratitude is being expressed in our actions vis-à-vis attention, time, care, respect, etc. Words of gratitude without corresponding attitudes or actions are just empty.

In the first reading, when Naaman (pagan-foreigner) realized that He has been miraculously cured of his leprosy through the Prophet Elisha, he quickly went back to him with numerous gift items and showed huge gratitude. Although, Prophet Elisha rejected the gifts that Naaman offered to him in order to humbly acknowledge God as the source of his healing and not take the glory.

Meanwhile, leprosy was viewed as punishment for sins committed against God. The punishment entails some form of alienation of those afflicted to an isolated place to avoid defilement and contamination of others in the community (Numbers 12:10-16).

Similarly, sin is a form of leprosy, which defiles us and makes us enemies of ourselves, of others and of God. When we come back to God through the Sacrament of reconciliation (confession), we are restored to love, friendship and wholeness. Every sin forgiven brings us close to our salvation; just as Jesus told Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house(Luke 19:9). So, we should always reciprocate the mercy we have received by showing gratitude (thanksgiving) to God in order to gain holistic healing.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus Christ expressed His dissatisfaction over the ungrateful attitude displayed by the nine Jewish lepers whom He cured of their leprosy. Out of ten persons who had received healing, only one person – a Samaritan, came back to show gratitude to Him and thus healed completely. Hence, Jesus asked, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner” (Luke 17:17-18)?

Moreover, the Jews as at that time hated the Samaritans and regard them as great sinners (idolaters), and also do not have anything in common with them. Yet, these Samaritans whom the Jews despise and regard as great sinners (idolaters) would always be performing remarkable or charitable works towards strangers. For instance, we have the well-known parable of the “Good Samaritan(Luke 10:30-37) and also the Samaritan woman, who became the first apostle of Jesus Christ to her fellow Samaritans (John 4:1-42).

Undoubtedly, gratitude is the most powerful, effective and fastest means of attracting the presence of God in every situation. As a matter of fact, it is the food that God eats (Psalms 50:9-15, 23; Psalms 22:3, Psalms 116:12-19). Also, gratitude is a strong weapon against the enemy in the battles of life. The praise of God is a weapon with which the enemy is overcome… (Psalms 8:1-2).

Besides, the tremendous effects of gratitude and praise to God can also be seen when the Israelites won great battles over their enemies. For instance, the Victory over Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites through Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:20-30), the Conquest and destruction of Jericho walls through Joshua(Joshua 6:1-27); the Miraculous deliverance of Paul and Silas in Prison(Acts 16:25-40), just to mention a few.

In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us that the greatest model of ministry is Jesus Christ Himself, who endured suffering and death for our sake, to be rewarded with new life. He is the inspiration of every Christian minister. Hence God’s faithfulness provides the surest hope for those who faithfully endure hardships in His service.

Furthermore, he urges us to always acknowledge the unquantifiable blessings of God in our lives despite our sinfulness and to perpetually give thanks to Him for salvaging us from our deplorable state through His Son (Colossians 1:3-8). Hence, we should not take things for granted like the nine ungrateful lepers in the gospel. If we fail to give thanks for the favours received, we shut the doors to further blessings that may come into our lives.

Our ingratitude will render us incapable of receiving God’s blessings. This is not to say that God would stop sending us His blessings, but the fact remains that, our ingratitude would close the door of our lives against them, and they would pass us by. It is worthy of note that, this gratitude or appreciation should also be shown, not only to the wealthy (high-class) people but to everyone, especially our juniors and workers (drivers, gatekeepers, maidservants, etc.) when the need arises.

Finally, as Christians, we need to develop an “attitude of gratitude”, that is, to cultivate the habit of expressing thankfulness and appreciation for any little favour we receive from God and our fellow human beings, even when things are not moving in our favour (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God is pleased with our gratitude and displeased with ingratitude.

It is very important for us to always appreciate people whenever they have done something good for us. Our thanksgiving renders us capable of receiving many more blessings from God. Of course, gratitude paves the way for more blessings, opportunities and breakthroughs. A thankful person is always a happy and joyful person because gratitude lightens the heart and brings healing effects to the soul of the giver. But ungratefulness incurs spiritual leprosy.


May the Almighty God forgive all your sins and free you from every spiritual leprosy, and may the Holy Spirit empower you to always show gratitude to God and humanity at all times, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.



  1. Amen! Thank you padre, this is awesome message one can not forget in a hurry.
    I pray for the wisdom to always be grateful to God and humanity at all times

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