Monday, November 23, 2009

The Heart’s Memory

Each year, as Thanksgiving Day arrives, I remember the Gospel story in which only one out of ten cured lepers --a foreigner-- returned to Jesus to express his gratitude and to give glory to God for being cured.

This nation’s historical tradition invites us to give thanks during one day each year. Without doubt, it is the date which gets the most people together. It is the most familiar and nationally recognized of all celebrations in the United States. The tradition of this celebration goes way back to a historical gesture of which not all know the story but the majority celebrates. It is all due to the fact that the attitude and action of being grateful and giving thanks is a profoundly human tendency, and because of it, profoundly divine.

In the Eucharist, we Christians have the fountain, the base, and the beginning and end of the Christian life. The Greek word “eucaristía” means precisely, “to give thanks”. That is to say that the most authentic and genuine Christian posture is to live giving thanks to God who gives us all we are and all we have.

In the present “consumer driven society”, the importance we give to money, the importance we give to having instead of to being, impedes us from remembering that always and in all circumstances we are not self-sufficient; that we do not auto-provide ourselves. We do not remember the fact that others work to give us things and services which we enjoy; that to live, we all need each other; that we are, beyond rational animals, beings which are solidary in good and evil; social beings that, as human beings and believers are part of the creative work of God, and that the main dynamic is to serve.

When we become conscious of our social nature and our importance in a creation in which everything created serves to help us live each day in the spirit of service and gratitude.
What allows our hearts to be thankful is the capacity for opening our senses and being conscious of everything we have and everything we are. The consequences of this thankful understanding come without delay: the grateful human being is a joyful man or woman, confident, humble and hopeful . . . and waiting on that loving presence which surrounds us, and which Christians call Holy Trinity.

When Jesus teaches us to see all good things as gifts from God, he at the same time teaches us to give all things as gifts. In other words, every good gift received from God commits us to place all at the service of our brothers and sisters, following a lifestyle that does not hoard life selfishly but favors all, especially the needy. Therefore, gratitude and gratefulness are attitudes which require of each of us a time and space in which all human beings can have the capacity, the possibility and the joy of being grateful.

Gratitude is an attitude, but because it is an attitude it is also an obligation. Therefore on Thanksgiving Day we are grateful but also give away . . . May it be that, more than things we give our time, our presence, our lives –and not only one day a year—but each day of our lives.

May you all have a Happy Thanksgiving Day! May we all be able to always be grateful and to aid others in having a reason to always be grateful!!

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