Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Generosity and Gratitude

Generosity and Gratitude

November 14, 2012
Wednesday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.  (Titus 3:4-7)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  (Psalm 23:1b)

And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.  (Luke 17:15-16) 


O Lord, open the eyes of my heart to your loving presence in my life.  May I ever be grateful for all your blessings, and may I never forget to thank you for your generosity. 


It’s that time of year again.  Time to start thinking about Christmas shopping and gift-giving.  The hardest people to please are right in my family.  The kids are all young adults now.  My father and siblings have everything they need.  It’s virtually impossible for me to please them, so I usually just end up giving them all gift cards.  I miss the “good, old days,” when they weren’t so picky, when they were excited to open a package, when we all lived by my mom’s annual reminder about gratitude.  She always said it’s not what you get that’s so important; it’s that someone cares enough about you to give you a gift that matters.  That’s not a bad thing to keep in mind.

Our God certainly loves us and cares about us.  The psalmist realizes how blessed he is.  He says that with God as his shepherd, there is nothing else he could want.  As Christians, we are reminded in the Letter to Titus of all we have to be thankful for.  God gave us the best gift of all.  Not a gift that we did anything to deserve, but a gift given purely out of love, the gift of a Savior. 

And that brings us back to the whole question of gratitude.  With God as our Shepherd, with Jesus Christ as our Savior, with the Holy Spirit renewing and sustaining us, why aren’t we leaping for joy?  In today’s Gospel reading, we see Jesus wondering about that very subject - people and gratitude.  He cures 10 lepers.  Their bodies are made whole.  No longer will they be ostracized or made to live apart.  You’d think they would all be dancing for joy, but only one of them comes back to thank Jesus.  And that person isn’t even a Jew; he’s a Samaritan.   I can picture Jesus shaking his head in perplexity.  He tells the grateful foreigner that his faith has saved him. 


The first time I went on an 8-day, Ignatian retreat, the first day’s assignment was to look back over my life and to give thanks for the blessings God had bestowed on me.  My spiritual director advised me to look not only at the good times, but at the periods of adversity as well.  At first, I was taken aback by his words, but as I prayed, I realized we don’t get to dictate to God the size, shape or color of our blessings.  God can use some of our lowest moments and toughest experiences to bless us, to draw us closer to him, to bring us to new awareness of his love for us.

Take a few moments today to recall some ways in which God has blessed you.  Don’t stop there, though.  Be like the Samaritan in today’s Gospel and return thanks to the Lord for all he has done and is doing in your life.

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