Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Joy of Gratitude

Gratitude is an anthropological posture; that is, a possibility that every human being has once he is able to recognize all the good that is in himself and in all that surrounds him.

It is possible for humans, even with positive experiences in life, to go through life without giving a lot of thought, or perhaps recognizing the good as personal merit or conquest through their own efforts. Or they can recognize a gracious and kind presence that brings good into human existence.

Societies and their correspondent cultures can, of themselves, promote a disposition in their citizens toward gratitude or they can ignore the issue.

In this transition from modernity to postmodernity, our culture is not well disposed or committed to gratitude nor willing to promote in other persons a readiness to be thankful. On the contrary, our culture is materialistic, making much of the conquests of what we are and have, emphasizing who we are and the goods and services we enjoy as achievements due exclusively to scientific and technical advance or to the global expansion of the world market and the ability of each person to acquire with money whatever he wants.

Herein lies the importance of Thanksgiving Day in our North American culture; it is an opportunity to remind ourselves that we should be grateful, that we can be thankful for what we are and have, in the midst of a society geared to opulence, luxury and waste, to comfort and exaggeration.

Thanksgiving Day thus becomes an annual event in which we are invited to remember, live, celebrate, share and express the essence of our humanity: that of being thankful. And for that reason this day constitutes a tacit but festive protest against pride and self-sufficiency.

This gives greater importance to the sense and significance of this North American celebration when we are reminded that this date — that brings together millions for the festive and thankful encounter with their loved ones at home and around the table — is not motivated by religious traditions or institutions, nor by political parties or an ideology of any kind. It constitutes simply a moment in the life of the family to recognize our debt to be thankful for what we have received —and, in the case of Christian humanism— to recognize that those benefits come to us from God, the Creator, the God of the Bible revealed in Jesus of Nazareth as our good and compassionate Father. That is to say, as Christians we recognize God’s loving presence in the daily activity of what we are and have, and the gratitude is therefore virtuous and an essential characteristic of the life of each Christian disciple.

Anyone able to express gratitude because he recognizes the presence of good is able to be joyful. That is to say that joy is the consequence of gratitude. Gratitude therefore, not only gives us joy but also commits us to share what we are and have with others, especially with the most needy.

Therefore, let us celebrate this day of THANKSGIVING in order to cultivate what should be a permanent attitude in our life: one of living with the joy of gratitude that expands as we share with others, with our brothers and sisters, and with men and women everywhere.