Are we grateful???

Today’s gospel passage asks us to reflect on the way we react to what we have received.  To be grateful, it is necessary to see and appreciate what is around us. The gospel presents us with the experience of some people who had received a special gift: they have been cured, but not all saw and realized the goodness and the greatness of the gift.

Many times, the gospel invites us to do something for others: what we call generosity, service…etc.  But we have also received gifts, and when we see and appreciate that, our reaction is what we call the virtue of gratitude.

For ourselves, Why are we not grateful? I believe it is because sometimes we may think that we are entitled to what is given to us; in other cases, is because we have forgotten our past.  So there are three important conditions. (We follow here Romano Guardini.)

  • Gratitude can only exist between an “I” and a “You.” As soon as the consciousness of the personal quality disappears and the idea of the apparatus prevails, gratitude dies.
  • Gratitude can exist only in the realm of freedom. As soon as there is a “must” or a claim, gratitude loses its meaning.
  • Gratitude can exist only with reverence. If there is no mutual respect, gratitude perishes and turns to resentment. Anyone who gives assistance to others should think about that. Only the assistance which makes gratitude possible really deserves the name.

To teach others to be grateful is difficult, because we cannot command it, but we can teach them to see and appreciate what they have received from God.  We also need to see our past, as the reason for what we are today. The Holy Father said this: “Thanksgiving is something which is born and grows among a people capable of remembering. It is rooted in the past, and through good and bad times, it shapes the present” (Pope Francis).

The ability to remember helps us to be grateful always, because even if today we have not received some gift; we did receive in the past and for that we are always grateful, because we remember that our lives have being touched by the grace of God and the generosity and kindness of others.

We celebrate Thanksgiving Day, on which we are thankful for all that we are and all that we have and possess. This is a great tradition, but I believe that in itself it does not achieve in us the virtue of gratitude, because a virtue implies a constancy. When we realize that everything we are, everything we have received is a gift, we should be grateful every single moment.  Perhaps the major expression of our praise to God is an action of grace, εὐχαριστία (eucharistia, eucharist), meaning “thanksgiving.”

Let us take a moment to reflect, to learn to see and appreciate, and, in doing so, give thanks.