Those who serve on the Wauwatosa Catholic School Board offer a big service to our community. We have six representatives: Tara Vosniak, who serves as the chairperson; Cindy Scheuing; Judith Persin; Holly Cartier; and our two trustees, Dennis Myers and Ronald Skelton. All of the representatives except the trustees serve on one of the school committees. Matt Stark also offers his time and talent on the Long Range Planning Committee. In our name I thank all of them for their generosity and dedication to our school.
Colleen Pashke has resigned from the Pastoral Council because of increased responsibilities at work, but continues on the Finance Council and as a driving force for the school auction. Kevin McGinty, who was one of the nominees this year for the Pastoral Council, has agreed to finish out the one year left on her term. We thank Colleen for her service to Pius and Kevin for accepting this new responsibility.
The theme of our readings this weekend is gratitude, gratitude toward God for all the gifts we have received. In both the first reading and the Gospel, a “foreigner” or “outsider” received the special gift of a cure from leprosy. It is important to remember that the physical ailment was the least of the leper’s problems: he or she was ostracized from the family, the community, from any communication with anyone other than another leper. A leper became a “non-person.” The Syrian army commander, cured in the first reading, wants to give the prophet Elisha a monetary reward for his cure, but Elisha refuses the gift, insisting that the credit goes to the Lord. So the man takes a mound of dirt back with him to Syria, so that he could worship and give thanks to God on “God’s own soil” (in those days they all believed that a god could only be worshiped in his own land, so the man takes Israel back to Syria in the mound of dirt).
In the Gospel story, 10 are cured of leprosy, but only the Samaritan, a despised heretic, comes back to thank Jesus. And his reward for being thankful is salvation! Ten were cured, only one was saved!
Sometimes I think gratitude or “saying thanks” is falling out of use. Two examples: more often than not, I do not receive thank you notes from grand nephews and nieces: their parents are not teaching them and making them do it anymore, as my parents did. And 99 out of a hundred times if I let someone into traffic, I get no thank you wave (and if I do, it is from an old codger like me). It is almost as if the person deserved to be let in, not that I did something kind. When that happens, I feel sad, not for me, but for the person: I think s/he is missing out on so much by not having learned to express gratitude. Being thankful takes us out of ourselves, helps us to remember the connections that are so important in life. And being aware of and thankful for God’s gifts to us moves us from “mine” to “ours,” making it easier to give food to the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick or imprisoned, etc.
I invite us to reflect this week on the virtue of gratitude: do we express thanks to God for His gifts of time, talent, and treasure, not only in words but especially through sharing? Do we express our gratitude to others as often as we should? Who do I need to say “thank you” to this week? And let us thank God for the gift of our Pius community, as we support each other in prayer.