Showing Gratitude Makes Life’s Journey Much More Joyful
Last week in our second reading, Saint Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, wrote that some people weren’t working, but just sitting around minding the business of others. As with any community, it’s not hard to imagine that there were people who weren’t contributing a whole lot, but were certainly complaining a lot. It’s part of what we often do as humans.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of complaining here and there. Sometimes things need to change. Or we have a bad day at work. Or are watching a sporting event and are frustrated at a play. Or just fed up with the weather. Sometimes we just have to vent.
But sometimes we can be chronic complainers. Or we can do a lot of complaining, but not a lot to change things. Or we can also forget that the world does not revolve around us and our issues, but there are other opinions that matter too.
I imagine God gets a lot of requests in our prayers and maybe some complaints. But with that, what a good thing it is to show gratitude too.
This week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, we celebrate a national day of thanks. But it’s worth thinking about some things to be “thankful for” on more than an annual basis.
For starters, how about the love of God? Today is the feast of Christ the King, and our Gospel is taken from the Passion in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus forgives the Good Thief. It’s such a powerful moment, because Jesus holds nothing of the man’s past against him; He simply says that today you will be with me in paradise. Such is the nature of God. If we look at our lives odds are there are certainly things we would not be proud of. But no matter what we do, or when we fall, with God, there is no grudge, no bringing up the past, just mercy and love. Saint Paul says it best in this week’s second reading to the Colossians: “Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
With that, this mercy and love help make us better on our journey so we can follow the Good Thief to paradise. God is with us every step of the way, and is not some distant God but cares about us so much. What a great thing to be thankful for, that we are created in God’s image, and that God loves us. We use that knowledge and strive to respond to that love by growing in grace and holiness and becoming better people.
While we make prayers of intercession, a good spiritual habit is to regularly think of things to be grateful for, and thank God for them. Each day, I can think so many great things that happen to me. I’m given another day of life. A friendly golden retriever is there to greet me. I have a great family and a vocation I love. I live in a remarkable country as an American citizen. The sun came out, or the birds are chirping, or I had the chance to throw a tennis ball to Emmett, or a phone call to my parents. Little things really add up and there’s so much to be thankful for in life.
Also, do you let other people know you are thankful for them and what they do? As humans, we can hear a lot of complaints from people and requests. But how often do we say positive things to our family, or just show thanks for who they are as individuals and for what they do. It’s so easy to become expectant, but just a kind word for a dinner, the house being cleaned, or the hard work put in on homework or the kindness shown from one sibling to another can really add up.
Life is such a gift. And while I have a few things I’ve complained about and still will complain about things from time to time, I have so much more to be thankful for because I have been so truly blessed. So have we all, so let’s remember that not just one day a year, but every day of our lives.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! ~Fr. Paul
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