November 24, 2016
Isaiah 63: 7 – 9; Luke 19: 45 – 48
“Jesus said, ‘…Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?’ ” Notice that Jesus does not seek thanks for Himself but to God and I believe that Jesus was very puzzled by the response of the nine. One of the marks of Jesus life was gratitude; that in itself is a revelation that there is something divine, something of God in being thankful. Thankfulness is much more than human politeness.
On at least two occasions, Jesus publicly gave thanks: when He fed the four thousand, St. Matthew recounts – “He took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds… All those present ate their fill.” (Mt 14: 13ff)
At the Last Supper – “Then taking bread and giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them ‘Take and eat, this is My Body’ – and He took a cup, gave thanks and gave it to them – All of you must drink from it – This cup is the new covenant in My blood which will be shed for you.”
In the mystery of His life, Jesus revealed that He only said or did what He heard or saw in His Father. In the account of creation in Genesis, God the Creator expresses gratitude – as if He were amazed at what happened by His word – five times God looks at what He has made and declares it “good” – on the sixth day He looked at everything He had made and found it “very good” – surely there is divine gratitude in that – mysterious for sure.
In addition to there being something divine in thanksgiving, it is clear that an abundance flows from it. After giving thanks, Jesus fed 4ooo people; after giving thanks Jesus instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of overflowing Presence we are privileged to receive today and everyday. God’s good creation surrounds us with abundance beyond abundance. With the Prophet Isaiah, we can profess, “The favors of the Lord, I will recall…He has favored us according to His mercy and great kindness.” (Is 63: 7ff)
Can we not say that in our own thankfulness, we participate in God’s life? Is there not a kind of abundance that flows out to others in our gratitude? True gratitude can only come from a heart that is expanded, is graced to see good and acknowledge it whether in word or action. Being grateful to God is an act of faith and love and expressing thanks to others is an act of belief in the goodness of another, in having been blessed by another. Surely, this is abundance, an overflowing of good for good. A word, a gesture of thanks goes a long way expressing an awareness of good not owed but freely given – and, of course, cherished. One sign of our belonging to God is clearly thankfulness!
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