Tuesday, July 21, 2015


In a bulletin for priests the editors give us the example of two persons who as children received much from others and in their later years in gratitude wanted to return what they had received back to humanity. 

One of these men was John. He was extremely poor. His father died when very young and his mother supported the family with working odd jobs for others. He was helped by a religious order and others to continue his schooling. He graduated from college and worked as a teacher for over thirty years. After retirement he went to China in gratitude for what he received as a youth. He worked for three years without pay as a teacher among the ethnic Koreans and was  an inspiration to many.

They also give us the example of Dr. Albert Schweitzer who spent most of his life helping Africans in medical work. His father was a minster and he was brought up in well off circumstances. One day he was in a fight with a child his own age, and he made the better of the fight but at the end the loser said to  Albert: "If I ate meat soup like you, I would not be on the losing end of this fight." This made Albert cry. It was from this experience that he began to take an interest in the poor, and finally ended up in Africa. "I am enjoying life but many do not have this opportunity." He became  a minister, philosopher, and teacher.

He knew that he receive this happiness not from his own efforts but from God, parents and environment.  In gratitude he wanted to repay this gift by devoting his life to Africans who were deprived of much of what he enjoyed. At the age of 40 he became a doctor and went to  Africa. 

A proverb in Korean is to write the name of your enemies in water, and blessings in stone. These two men inscribed what they receive in stone and remembered it in their lives. Many instead of repaying what they have received forget it, and write it in water, and their grudges in stone. This is not an easy proverb to follow. But gratitude makes for a more fruitful life. There is another saying:  if we don't have anything to be thankful, we  need to look over the way we have lived. 

The article ends with the incident in Luke 17:15-17 where Jesus cures 10 lepers and only one returns to  give thanks. Jesus asks where are the other nine?

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