One of the topics at our Wisdom School session this past weekend was Conscious Attention. I’m sure most of us have, at one time or another, been on the receiving end of the imperative, “Pay attention!” Because of the swirling, noisy, increasing volume of information in our society it’s difficult to focus on just one thing at a time. “Multi-tasking” has become the order of the day for most of us and our attention is split in so many ways that we often end up not really attentive to much of anything. I was reminded of this when reading the gospel for this morning (LK 17: 11-19), the story of the cure of ten lepers.
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem when ten lepers met him at the entry to a village and (keeping their distance as lepers were forced to do) shouted, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Instead of making a show of healing them, Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. Although they were obedient to this directive, they must’ve determined that their healing would come from the priests – or that Jesus had just dismissed their request – because the next line speaks to their lack of consciousness as they went on their way. “As they were going,” the gospel says, “they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” The other nine must’ve been quite preoccupied not to notice what had happened!
Implied in all this are two lessons, I think. It behooves us to stay awake to recognize the miracles that are happening in our lives – some of which we have asked for and some of which are just pure, unsought gift. Secondly, the questions of Jesus to the one who returned, “Were not ten made clean? Where are the other nine?” calls us to focus our attention on the place of gratitude in our lives so that, when we wake up to the gift, we will be ready with a “Thank you!”