Meister Eckhart, a great spiritual;
writer of the past stated blunt and to the point, with respect to a fundamental
attitude of prayer, with these consoling words:
“If the only prayer we ever uttered were that of THANKSGIVING, then that
indeed would be enough.”
Shakespeare had sharp words to the
ungrateful! “More painful than that of a
serpent’s toot is that of an ungrateful child.”
The Psalmist reminds us time and time
again of the call to thanksgiving: “Give
thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love endures forever.” Count the number of times that the Psalmist
reminds us and encourages us to render God thanks giving! You will be amazed at
the number of times!
The Apostle Paul does not forget this
“Attitude of gratitude” that should characterize the life of the follower of
Christ. The fiery apostle to the
Gentiles goes so far as to challenge us to “give thanks at all times.” God indeed loves a heart that overflows with
gratitude and He is longing to pour an abundance of graces specifically on
those who are known for their gratitude.
In another passage Paul challenges to
be humble and grateful asserting: “What
do you have that you have not received?”
Humbling as this may sound, the only thing that we actually have that
has not been given as a gift from God are the SINS that we freely choose to
commit against God’s love and super-abundant bounty!
Of course our Model, par-excellence, for gratitude is Jesus
Himself. We see Jesus giving thanks to
the Heavenly Father before working the stupendous miracle of the multiplication
of the loaves and fishes. Jesus
expressed both wonder and sorrow after accomplishing a miracle full of
compassion and love in which he healed the ten lepers of this terrible, incurable,
and isolating disease of leprosy. Only
one of the ten who were cured came running back to Jesus, praising and thanking
Jesus for the gift of being healed. The
other nine, went their happy way without even a word of thanks to Jesus! By the way, the healed leper that did return
was a Samaritan--- a class of people that the Jews despised!
The passage in the Gospel that best
manifests the “Attitude of gratitude” of Jesus toward the Father happened
precisely at the Last Supper, a few
hours before He was to undergo His most bitter Passion.
At the Last Supper Jesus took bread
broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying “Do this in memory of me.” Priests have been carrying out this mandate
of Jesus the past 2000 years every time they celebrate Holy Mass, which is
called, “The Eucharist”--- Eucharist actually means thanksgiving!
Jesus was thankful to the Father to
be able to celebrate the First Mass on Holy Thursday and leave us a memorial of
His Passion, death and resurrection every time Holy Mass is celebrated. How
exceedingly grateful we should be every time we participate in Holy Mass!
Starting today, let us foster and
cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” towards God from whom comes every good
gift. What do we have that we have not
received from Him, except our own sinfulness?
Why not start with these five categories of “Gifts” that God has gratuitously
bestowed on us and teach others--- especially parents their children—to do the
First, Life! And on two planes: natural and
supernatural. The fact that God, the
author, origin and sustainer of life has endowed us with human life and
supernatural life through grace should motivate us to sing a canticle of praise
as id the mystical and poetically sensitive heart of St. Francis of
Assisi! Our life could have been
destroyed in the horrific act of abortion, snuffed out underneath a bomb, are
ended tragically in a head on collision. But no, God has given us life and
protected it. Even more worthy of gratitude is the gift of belief in God!
Second, NOURISHMENT! Contemplating little children with bloated
stomachs, sunken eyes and toothpicks called arms, how can we not raise our
hearts in gratitude to God and make an effort to alleviate the plight of those
who practically have nothing!
Spiritually, God nourishes us by His Word, and by Hos Sacrament, The
most Holy Eucharist, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity! Eternal gratitude
towards you, O Lord!
Third, HEALING! Thanks be to God for the dedication and
expertise of those in the Medical Profession, who have saved us from serious
illness and maybe death itself. Still
more, abundant thanks to the Lord for the healing of our souls through the healing
and gentle touch of Jesus the Physician who anoints us, and heals us though the
priest in the Sacrament of Confession
! Jesus is the wounded healer who has
come to heal our wounds so that we also can be wounded healers in broken world!
Fourth, FRIENDSHIP! Call to mind the many friends that Jesus has
sent. Consolation, compassion, mere
presence, advice, at times fraternal correction, a timely smile and a fervent
prayer--- all of these are hallmarks of the signs of an authentic friend. But even more important Jesus clearly
expressed an intimate desire of His Sacred Heart to the Apostles, and to you
and me: “I do not call you slaves
but FRIENDS! Most certainly Jesus is Friend and the most
faithful of friends. Even the best of friends fail at times. However, Jesus is
our true Friend and he will never fail us!
Fifth, HOPE, TRUST, TRUE
HAPPINESS! As followers of Jesus we can
start our day, end our day—despite trials, struggles and even failures—with
renewed hope! Merciless are political
regimes, dictators, calculating money-makers!
Not so with our Lord and God. In
Him we can place all of our hope; He is worthy of total and limitless trust and
in Him can be found true happiness. As
the sun rises tomorrow morning so does God’s love for each and every one of
us! God is our Rock, Fortress, anchor,
Principle and Foundation and the source of our happiness here on earth and in
heaven for all eternity! For this let us
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good for His love endures forever.”