Pope Francis called on Catholics to be “bearers of gratitude” during his weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday, Dec. 30.
Continuing his series of catechesis on prayer, the pontiff spoke on the importance of gratitude in prayer, which he said makes the world better and brings hope.
“Above all, let us not forget to thank: if we are bearers of gratitude, the world itself will become better, even if only a little bit, but that is enough to transmit a bit of hope,” he said.
The leader of the Catholic Church stressed that the world these days “needs hope.”
“And with gratitude, with this habit of saying thank you, we transmit a bit of hope,” he said.
“Everything is united and everything is connected, and everyone needs to do his or her part wherever we are,” added the pontiff.
The pope held his final general audience address for the year in the library of the apostolic palace, where the weekly event has been held since October because of the pandemic.
He dedicated Wednesday’s audience to the prayer of thanksgiving, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes as one of the principal forms of prayer, alongside blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, and praise.
The pope reflected on Jesus’ healing of 10 lepers as described in St. Luke’s Gospel (17:11-19).
“From a distance, Jesus invited them to present themselves to the priests, who were designated by law to certify healings that had occurred. Jesus said nothing else. He heard their prayer, their cry for mercy, and He sent them immediately to the priests,” the pope said.
“Those 10 lepers trusted, they did not remain there until they were cured, no: they trusted and they went immediately, and while they were on their way, they were cured, all 10 were cured. The priests would have therefore been able to verify their healing and readmit them to normal life,” he added.
He pointed out that only one of the lepers — “a Samaritan, a sort of ‘heretic’ for the Jews of that time” — returned to thank Jesus for healing him.
“This narrative, so to speak, divides the world in two: those who do not give thanks and those who do; those who take everything as if it is owed them, and those who welcome everything as a gift, as grace,” said Pope Francis.
“The Catechism says: ‘Every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving.’ The prayer of thanksgiving always begins here: to recognize that grace precedes us. We were thought of before we learned how to think; we were loved before we learned how to love; we were desired before our hearts conceived a desire.”
“If we view life like this, then ‘thank you’ becomes the driving force of our day.”
“Christians, as all believers, bless God for the gift of life. To live is above all to have received. All of us are born because someone wanted us to have life. And this is only the first of a long series of debts that we incur by living. Debts of gratitude,” he said.
“During our lives, more than one person has gazed on us with pure eyes, gratuitously. Often, these people are educators, catechists, persons who carried out their roles above and beyond what was required of them. And they provoked us to be grateful. Even friendship is a gift for which we should always be grateful.”
The pope urged Catholics to follow the “path to happiness” that St. Paul outlined at the end of his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, saying: “Pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thes 5:17-19).