In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
“Entitlement” is a buzzword that gets a good bit of traction these days. It’s usually lobbed out as a criticism, particularly from one generation to another. (Born in 1983, I’m, technically, an old Millennial!) It’s a toxic term in our culture today because it represents a toxic disposition that often pits one group of people against another. It’s the mindset or belief that a person or group of people deserve something beyond what they have earned or that justice, as a virtue, is their due. Taken to an extreme, “Entitlement” can result in the breakdown of relationships and, possibly, even societies.
Enter the opposite disposition of Entitlement, particularly in the context of Christian Virtue: Gratitude! What is Gratitude, but the recognition that our very existence is a gift, itself, and that God is the one who brings us into existence and sustains us in and through a loving relationship. When we see ourselves, fundamentally, as a gift from God (not in the negative way that sometimes can be used), we begin to treat others differently (as a gift, too, even when they annoy us!). Gratitude is powerful because it is the foundation of the life of Christian Virtue.
We’re able to see these two extremes in the Scriptures this weekend. For the nine lepers who didn’t return to Christ to acknowledge their healing, their encounter with Jesus was, perhaps, merely transactional…” just another person who did something for me”! They were physically healed by Jesus Christ, but they weren’t truly transformed by their encounter with the living Word of God!
Put simply, Entitlement closes us off from the transformative wonder and mystery that is the adventure of Christian discipleship. Gratitude opens our imagination up to the working of God in our midst. Entitlement can turn us into monsters. Gratitude is the foundation of how we become saints and experience freedom, peace, and joy!
May your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and follow after and make us always determined to carry out good works.