Gratitude connects us always with God

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE parable about the ungrateful tenants (cfr. Mt 21:33-43,45-46) somehow reminds us about the importance of being thankful by reciprocating what we receive from God and from others. It keeps our relation with them alive and vibrant. Taking this duty for granted would actually alienate us from them, and thus suffer the consequences.

IT’S really for our own good. To be thankful to God for all his blessings to us, including especially his mercy, and to everyone is really for our own benefit rather than for any good we can give to them.

God does not need anything from us. What he wants is that we learn to be with him always since we are his children, created in his image and likeness. He wants to share his life with us. God loses nothing if we choose not to be with him. But without him, we are the ones who would lose everything.

A heart that is not thankful is an isolated heart. It’s a lonely heart that thinks it can live and do things simply by itself, in violation of our nature and what we actually feel deep in our hearts. It has no other way but to be unhappy.

A thankful heart will never be alone and sad. It recognizes the many blessings and good things that it continues to receive. And it knows where they come from, and also for what purpose they are given. It will always be happy.

To be grateful is a necessity for us. It does us a lot of good. It keeps alive the reality that we depend on God and others for everything. It strengthens our intimacy with him, and our awareness that whatever happens in our life, God is always in control.

It makes us keenly aware of the all-powerful and merciful providence of God. With that providence, we would know that even the dark, negative things in life have meaning and purpose. They, at least, give excitement and beauty in life, because life, without these elements and when it only has all things bright and rosy, would be boring.

It keeps us humble and simple, otherwise we start inventing things and distorting reality. It keeps our feet on the ground even as we let our mind and heart soar to high heavens.

We have to make sure that thanksgiving comes pouring out from our hearts everyday. In the Gospel of St. John, there’s a little expression that can serve as a spur for us to be thankful, words Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you only knew what God is offering…” (4,10)

It might be worthwhile to remember these words, if not to say it often during the day, to remind us about God’s loving providence over us. To be sure, he continues to intervene in our life. He can never be detached from us, indifferent to our needs.

This is our problem. We tend to take all the goodness of God for granted. We are notoriously short-sighted and narrow-minded. We hardly consider anything beyond what our senses can perceive, what our intelligence can understand. We fail to be guided by faith that allows us to see the spiritual and supernatural reality of our life.

We have to see to it that everyday, we are conscious that we are always thanking God and others. In fact, we need to continue lifting our heart in thanksgiving all throughout the day, as a Latin phrase beautifully puts it: “Ut in gratiarum semper actione maneamus.” (May we always be giving thanks.)