“In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18) These words from St. Paul express a fundamental attitude that we as Christians should constantly seek to foster in our lives. I proposed gratitude as a way of beginning to reflect on the topic of stewardship, but gratitude should be present at every point in the journey of discipleship and stewardship. When we actually exercise our stewardship, giving of our time, talent, or treasure, are we doing so with an attitude of gratitude, or do we harbor some resentment, begrudgingly offering what is mine? After we have exercised our stewardship, do with thank the Lord? By this I do not mean that we should say: “Thank goodness that is over! Now I can get back to what I want to do.” Rather, do we thank Him for the good that He will work in us and in those we support through our generosity?
As our country prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving Day this coming Thursday, now could be a good time for us to do an examination of our lives, asking the Lord to reveal to us if we are people of gratitude. Perhaps some questions to consider might be:
- Do I tell God thank you for my blessings every day? Or do I just tell Him how difficult my life is, rattling off my problems?
- Do I express gratitude to others for the good that they have done for me or for others? Or do I question their motives, or think that I deserve it?
- What is my general outlook on my life? Is it positive or negative? A negative view of ourselves is often a sign that we are lacking in gratitude.
- How do I view others around me? Am I grateful that God has placed them in my life? Or am I inclined to notice their weaknesses, harbor grudges about how they have treated me, make judgments about them?
- Do I find myself being envious of what others have, how they look, what they do, etc.? An excessive preoccupation with others can be a sign of lack of gratitude for what God has given us.
- If somebody were to describe me, would they see me as a grateful, and thus joyful person? Or would they see me as somebody who always seems to complain, somebody who is always negative?
- Do I thank God even for the crosses in my life, believing that “all things work for the good for those who love God”? (Rom 8:28)
This list is not necessarily exhaustive, but hopefully it can helpful so that we can understand where we are at. If you are like me, going through this exercise is a little discouraging, because I know I lack the gratitude the Lord invites me to have. But there is good news – growth and progress are possible! Do not let that discouragement bring us down, but let’s give thanks to God for shining His light to reveal where we are, and also giving us the encouragement to begin again. Next Sunday begins a new liturgical year, and perhaps we can make a spiritual resolution to be more grateful to God for everything in our lives – our blessings, our crosses, our opportunities, our time, our money, those around us, our family, our faith, our parish. We have so much to be grateful for, so let us bring that gratitude to the Lord even now as your read this, and ask the Lord for the grace to live the command of St. Paul more fully in the year ahead, to give thanks in all circumstances!
Please know of my gratitude for all of you, and the blessing of being entrusted with the stewardship of this parish and your souls. I give thanks to God for all of you every day!