In a recent homily, we were challenged by being questioned if we were truly grateful for the many gifts God has given us. Pastor didn’t mean material gifts, but the deeper, more important gifts, like our ability to discern color, to think and reason, to breathe even.
The timing was uncanny as lately I’ve been thinking a lot about thankfulness and gratefulness—even though well past Thanksgiving. Even so, I saved a Thanksgiving article by Stephanie Raha published in the Miscellany and I pulled it out when I got back from Mass. She quoted a George Washington proclamation from 1789 where he told us that it is our duty to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God and to be grateful for His benefits. She went on to ask, “how many of us actually acknowledge with grateful hearts the many favors of Almighty God, whether on Thanksgiving or any other day?”
A morning meditation book asks this question:
“What if God took back all His gifts which you neglect to thank Him for?”
Here are some of the things for which I am most grateful:
- The wonder of our physical make-up, our faculties to see, hear, taste, touch, smell.
- Family – an obvious one, but how awesome to have their love and support, and to have others to love and support.
- Health – another obvious one, but even for those in difficult circumstance—access to first class health care.
- Freedom – to choose where and how to live, what to do for work and recreation.
- Basic necessities of food and shelter in an overabundance.
- Friends – especially my Cursillo group and my long-time high school and college buddies.
There is so much more. And I don’t have trouble being thankful for these. My trouble is more about taking them for granted. Or worse, thinking that I’ve acquired things because of my own efforts. I’ve worked for them, so I’ve earned them.
Here is another thing I’m grateful for – Scripture. In Deuteronomy 8: 11-18 Moses warns me to “not forget the Lord…do not say my power and might have gotten me this wealth. But remember the Lord, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.”
I am lucky. The gifts I have are given freely to me by God’s grace. When I realize this and admit that He is the source of all I have and all I am, I want to do something for Him in return. In grateful response, I want to give back to others, to build His community. It is my duty to use the talents and abilities He gives me in service to His people. It is my honor to do so.
God bless us all in our efforts to thank Him and serve Him in the new year.