GRATITUDE AND GENEROSITY

7th Day of Simbang Gabi  

            Allow me to start off with these words about gratitude from Melody Beattie: Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

            Gratitude and happiness go together. Gratitude and joy go together. One cannot be grateful and unhappy at the same time. William Law, a writer, has this to say about being grateful: “The shortest and surest way to happiness is to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.” “For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.”

            Narinig natin sa ebanghelyo ngayon ang awit ni Maria – ang Magnificat. Si Maria ay nagpupuri, naggagalak at nagpapasalamat sa Diyos. Nagpapasalamat siya dahil nilingap siya ng Diyos… gumawa ang Diyos ng mga dakilang bagay… kinahabagan ng Diyos ang mga may takot sa kanya… pinakita ng Diyos ang lakas ng kanyang bisig. In her Magnificat, Mary gratefully recognizes God’s blessings… and this is her reason for rejoicing… this makes her joyful.

            Do we have Mary’s deep sense of gratitude? How do we show our gratitude to God? Marami na akong nakilala at nakapanayam na mga taong nagtalaga ng kanilang sarili sa pagtulong at pagsisilbi, sa iba’t ibang paraan at sa iba’t ibang ministry, sa “mga nasa laylayan” ng ating lipunan. Kapag tinanong sila bakit nila ginagawa ito, halos lahat ang sinabi ay: ginagawa nila ang ganitong pagsisilbi bilang pagtanaw ng utang na loob sa Diyos na nagkaloob sa kanila ng di-mabilang na biyaya. It is the least they can do in light of all God’s blessings which they enjoy. Gratitude motivates them and enables them to be beacons of hope to those without hope. Perhaps I can add: Their grateful and generous service helps others to hope for a better life.

            May we have “the eyes of faith” – like the eyes of Mary. Laging nakikita ni Maria ang mga dakilang bagay na ginawa at patuloy na ginagawa ng Diyos sa kanya. Si Maria ay “napupuno ng grasya” sapagkat siya ay laging puno ng pasasalamat sa Panginoon sa lahat ng bagay. With the eyes of faith, we are enabled to see and appreciate the blessings of God. When we are grateful enough for the air we breathe, for the food we eat, for the good health we enjoy, and for the family and friendship we are blessed to have, that we are willing to reach out to the lost, the last, and the least we will discover that we ourselves are being healed, being saved, being blessed.

            May kuwento tungkol sa isang matandang balong babae sa India na dumating sa kanilang simbahan para magbigay ng kanyang alay o offering: ilang sako ng bigas. Hindi gaanong kilala ng kura paroko ang nasabing balo; pero alam niya na ito ay napakahirap lamang. Kaya ang kanyang dalang alay ay sadyang napakalaki para sa kanyang abang kalagayan sa buhay.

            The priest asked if the poor widow had received some unusual blessing. “Yes, father,” replied the woman. “My son was sick and I promised a large gift to God if he got well.” “And your son has recovered?” asked the pastor. The widow paused for a few moments… then said, “No, father.” “He died last week. But I know that he is in God’s care. And for that I am especially thankful.”

            What is your personal, effective, and concrete way of expressing your profound gratitude to God? We can express our gratitude to our God who is always with us by spending enough time in prayer and communion with him. We can express our gratitude to our loving God by radiating his love – even to the unloving and seemingly unlovable people. We can express our gratitude to our forgiving God by forgiving from the heart those who sin against us seventy times seven times. We can express our gratitude to our generous God by generously sharing God’s gifts and blessings with others, especially with the needy. The most effective way of expressing our gratitude to God is to pass on or share his blessings to someone else and to make these blessings available to our community. We are blessed to be a blessing to others. We are, indeed, gifted to give!

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