Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.

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“Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Luke 17: 17-18) Ingratitude has been called “the most unkindest cut of all.” Yes, it is so easy to fall in love with the gift and forget all about the Giver; to admire a painting and never think of the painter; to enjoy music and never know the heart from which it came; to accept and love ourselves and not to care for the One from whom we came.

We like to think of ourselves as doers and achievers but the basic fact of life is that we are primarily receivers and transmitters not achievers. We all started out as zero, zip, nada. We did not ask to be. We did nothing to get here. My very existence is a gift of God. What am I anyway but a conglomeration of the gifts of God? What do I have that I have not received? Our most basic relationship with God therefore should be one of gratitude.

On another level I really did not start out as zero, zip, nada. In fact, I did not start out at all. I existed for all eternity. I existed in the mind of God as one of an infinite number of possible beings, beings that possibly could be. Out of this infinite number of possible beings God freely chose to create me.

My parents did not want me. They may have wanted a child but they did not know who I would be. But God knew exactly who I would be, and he wanted me. “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.” So from all eternity my most basic relationship with God is one of gratitude. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. God gave us a memory so that we can remember and give thanks. The memory enables us to bring forth from the storeroom of the past the wonderful moments of success, love and happiness, so that we can re-live, re-enjoy them and be grateful. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. That is what the Bible is all about. The Bible is the written history of many of the wonderful gifts God has given us from the very creation of the world and the promise of even greater gifts in the future. In the beginning the memory of these gifts was handed on orally to each succeeding generation and then under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit written down so that all could remember and give thanks. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. That is what the Mass is all about. The Mass is the perfect act of thanksgiving that Jesus commanded us to, “Do this in memory of me.” It is the perfect sacrifice Malachi foretold which would be offered up from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. That is why we have a National Thanksgiving Day. We live in a country of plenty in a world of want, a land of religious and political freedom in a world of ethnic cleansing and zero tolerance, a land at peace in a world at war. Yet we have to set aside one day a year to remind us to give thanks to God. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. And in so doing we grow in the love of God. It is in gratitude for the gifts that we grow in the love of the Giver. As we say in the preface at Mass, “Our act of thanksgiving adds nothing to your greatness but makes us grow in grace through Jesus Christ, or Lord.”

Gifts are the language of love, the more one loves the more one gives. Never has this language of gift-giving been spoken to me as God has spoken it to me. If God would not give me one gift more I should be grateful. But the best gift is yet to come. God will continue to look over me with His Divine Providence and then at the end of my life he will give me the greatest gift of all the gift of the Giver to be known, loved and possessed forever.

“Lord, give me a grateful heart,” so that I may always remember and give thanks, and in so doing I may grow in the love of You.

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