Being Thankful

Posted in: Homilies

June 18, 2017 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

June 18, 2017
John 6: 51-58
Fr. George Smiga

There is a simple yet profound message in today’s first reading from the book of Deuteronomy. God tells Israel to remember all that God has done for them: to remember how God set them free from the slavery of Egypt, guided them for forty years through the wilderness, fed them with manna in the desert. God wants Israel to remember and to be thankful.

A man entered a flower shop, looked around, and gathered together a few of the cut flowers that were on display. Then he went up to the counter to pay for them. He said to the owner, “These are my wife’s favorites.” The owner said, “Is your wife ill?” “Ill?” the man responded, “She’s as healthy as you are.” “I apologize,” said the owner, “but to tell the truth, most husbands don’t buy flowers for their wives unless they are ill or dead.”

How often do we take for granted the blessings that God has given us? How often do we fail to remember what our spouse, our children, our job or our abilities mean to us? If any of these gifts were taken away by death or disability, we would remember then. We would buy flowers then. But how often do we remember the blessings we have received today?

God wants Israel to remember. God wants us to remember and to give thanks. But it is crucial for us to understand why God wants us to give thanks. It is not for God’s benefit, but for ours. God has no need of our thankfulness. We do.

Thomas Merton writes, “Unless we are grateful for our very existence, we do not know who we are, and we have not yet discovered what it means to be and to live.” Living is more than the accumulation of the activities with which we fill a day: sleeping, talking, working, eating, and surfing the Internet. Living is knowing who we are and understanding that all we have is a gift from the God who loves us. To live in this way we need thankfulness. The happiest people in the world are thankful people. If you want more joy in your life, be more thankful.

How do we become thankful? By developing a habit of thankfulness, a habit of remembering all that we have received. Now this is the challenge for every human being. But today on this feast of The Body and Blood of the Lord, we are reminded as Catholics that we have a special means of thankfulness—the Eucharist. Eucharist means thanksgiving. Every time we gather here to praise God in prayer and song, we remember all that God has done for us. The weekly celebration of the Eucharist breaks the routine of our lives and focuses us on what really matters. Eucharist takes us deeper and reminds us who we are and all that we have received: life, relationships, and the ability to serve others.

This is what life is about. This is what will bring us joy. Don’t forget it.

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