I was sitting in the varandah of my house on a day after my mother’s burial on June 11, 2017 enjoying the warmth of the rising sun in the east. I was reading the daily newspaper “Deepika”. In front of me on the wide court yard three workers and their contractor Bashir were busy removing the mandap. Then my brother Vincent appeared on the front door and seeing the workers said aloud, “Bashir, last two days there were very heavy rains! But not a drop of water came down inside the mandap! Thanks a lot for your workmanship. I am immensely grateful to you, Bashir!”
My brother Vincent’s sincere appreciation made Bashir to smile from ear to ear expressing his joy and satisfaction of his work. In English Bashir could have said, “Vincent Sir, you have made my day! With your words of gratitude you have made my whole day beautiful!”
The word ‘Thanks’ has great power. With the sincerely said word ‘Thanks’ even an enemy could became friend. Thanksgiving can change hatred and enmity into love. The quarrelsome neighbours may forget their hatred and can became good friends.
Filled with sincere gratitude many known and not so known personalities have expressed inspiring words about thanksgiving and gratitude. Roman statesman Cicero said, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all the other virtues.” A well known Christian saint Ambrose has said that, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” A French proverb says that, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart”. Then, the Bible exhorts us, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.”
The American people give great importance in expressing their thanks and showing their gratitude. Some years back I was in USA to participate in an Executive Body meeting as a Counsel Member of the International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP). After the meeting a journalist friend invited me to spend an evening with his family. On that day the Americans were celebrating their National Thanksgiving Day. The people gathered in their families and neighbourhood to celebrate together and express their gratitude to one-another for the gift of life, for their country and finally to God the Creator and Giver of all things.
My host and his family were celebrating the Thanksgiving Day together with their immediate neighbours with a grand dinner party where everything was in abundance. When I appreciated the great display of things after I came out of their family summing pool, the wife of my friend told me, “Fr Varghese, we poor Americans always celebrate in a grand way the Thanksgiving Day. In USA all people rich and poor, black and white without any discrimination of race, colour or religion celebrate Thanksgiving Day in a memorable way”.
Only in St. Luke’s Gospel there is the story of a rare gratitude. One day Jesus cured ten lepers who approached him pleading for his healing touch. Jesus told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priest” (as proof that you have been cured). Finding themselves cured on their way one of them a Samaritan (means a foreigner) returned to give thanks to Jesus for his miraculous cure. Then Jesus said, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? … Get up and go your way; your faith has saved you” (Luke 17: 15-19)
In some of the passage of the New Testament we see Jesus himself giving thanks to his heavenly Father. Jesus’ friend Lazarus was dead and buried for four days. Reaching his tomb and raising Lazarus back to life, Jesus said, “Father, I thank you for you have heard me. I know that you always hear me.” Then Jesus brought back Lazarus to life saying, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11: 41-44).
A number of Psalms in the Bible sing the praises of God and express the gratitude of the devotees. For example in Psalm 147 we sing:
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving,
make music on the harp for our God.” (Ps 147: 7)
A short cut to the enthroned God in our hearts is our personal gratitude and thanksgiving to our Creator God. Many places of worship have the ambient/atmosphere of peace and tranquility. One day a new hermit came to the Guru and told him that he is not able to pray in the Ashram. Here I feel God is far away from me!
My brother, please do not bother that you are not able to pray here,” the Guru said. “You please do one thing every day during the prayer time. Recall one after another all the innumerable blessings and gifts with which the Good Lord has blessed you all through your past life. God will come to you and pitch his tent in your heart”, the Guru counseled him.
In a few days by praising God and thanking him for his gratuitous gifts, the new Ashramite could tell his Guru that he felt inner peace and a glowing presence of God as Love in his prayer and daily life. Prayer became easy for him as part and parcel of his daily routine. Besides, his whole life became happy and peaceful oozing love for all.
Let us enjoy our lives through the path of expressing our love and gratitude to all those who cross the path of our lives. Let us begin with expressing gratitude to God our Creator and all the people in our lives. Eventually we are drawn to wonder about the whole universe and thank God for the entire creation. So you may join the Psalmist:
“I sing a hymn of thanksgiving
and tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Ps 26: 7)
Changed On: 01-02-2019
Next Change: 16-02-2019
Copyright.. Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2019