Follow the Samaritan’s lead

By Vinal Van Benthem | October 9, 2013

A complaint I often hear is that this generation seems to have an exaggerated sense of entitlement. Our consumer society encourages it, the media sells it and all too many of us are buying into it. True, when we pay for a product or service we should be able to count on the product being as advertised and the service being performed quickly and competently. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say “thank you.”

“As he was entering a village, 10 lepers met him.” Ten people who had need of healing. Ten people who believed that Jesus could heal them. And, indeed, he did. But only one came back to say “thank you.” Luke tells us that the one who returned was a Samaritan — a foreigner, and a hated foreigner at that. Yet this one came back to say “thank you.” Why? Could it be that the other nine, being Jews, knew Jesus and because they knew him felt somehow entitled to the healing?

A friend of mine was in the hospital recently. The doctors, nurses and others who cared for him were incredible, bringing humor and light into the room even as they brought gentleness and healing. Given the high cost of hospitalization my friend could easily have insisted that he was entitled to such care. But he didn’t. Because he appreciated what they did he thanked them often. Were there other patients who did not say “thank you?” I hope not. But if there were I have no doubt that these good people would have treated them equally well.

When was the last time that someone performed a service or provided a product to which, because you paid for it, you felt entitled? Was it the clerk at the checkout counter? The bank teller who cashed your check? Did you say “thank you?” Or did you take their work for granted, assuming that the fact that they got paid was thanks enough? The Samaritan thanked Jesus, not because he was entitled to his healing, but because he appreciated it. Do we appreciate what others do for us? Do we return to say “thank you?”

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.  

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