Jesus and the ten leopards..

You may be thinking – whoops, I’ve made a mistake in the title of this piece.

But, years ago, when my daughter was little, she did a picture in Junior Church that she brought home and showed me. It was a picture of Jesus, she said, with the ten leopards. And there he was in the centre of the page surrounded by spotty cats. ‘And only one leopard said thank you for getting rid of his spots,’ she said.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was ten lepers not leopards. After all, did it really matter whether it was lepers or leopards? My daughter had got the main point. That only one in ten said thank you.

It’s quite shocking when you think about it. The lepers had been completely ostracised from society because of their skin disease - which not only made them shunned because of the risk of contagion but also made them ritually impure and untouchable. And yet only one leper said thank you when Jesus healed them all.

No one says ‘Thank you’ to Jesus

More shocking still is that no one in the Gospels seems to say thank you to Jesus. We hear a lot of ‘Heal me,’ ‘Help me,’ ‘Save me.’ And Jesus does heal and help and save many, many people. But no one says thank you.

It’s shocking because ‘thank you’ is one of the most important things we need to say to each other to maintain friendship and connection. We all know how it feels when we help someone and they omit to say thank you. We feel unvalued and taken for granted.

But Jesus never complains at the ungratefulness of the people around him. He just says rather sadly to the only leper who thanks him, ‘Were not ten made clean?’

Fortunately, St Paul sees the importance of saying thank you to Christ. In his letter to the Philippians he tells his Church, ‘Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to the Lord.’

Be thankful

The greatest gift I have ever received in my life is my gift of faith in Jesus. My faith that Jesus has the power to bring healing and new life – to everyone who comes to him. As he has done in my own life.

Remembering this makes me hugely grateful. So it’s good and right to say thank you.

Don’t take Jesus for granted. Don’t take your faith for granted. Don’t take all your blessings for granted and focus only on what’s wrong in life.

Be thankful.

Be like the tenth leper – or leopard – and actually say it. ‘Thank you!’