Humble Gratitude

10-09-2022From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

Attitude and gratitude are two words that are very closely connected. Our attitudes are determined by many things and the challenge we face is to rise above wallowing in anger and confusion to see the positive we have and the positive that we can do. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Luke 17:11-19) we see Jesus curing ten people who had the disease of leprosy. But only one of the ten comes back to thank Jesus for the cure. The others were surely happy that their disease was cured and they were no longer social outcasts, but their failure to express gratitude deprived them of the joy God’s blessings bring. Another word we deal with in our society today is entitlement. Our government entitlement programs are designed to be a safety net to help those in need. Entitlement Programs of the federal government include Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment, and welfare programs. Entitlement programs are rights granted to citizens and certain non-citizens by federal law. It is good to use our resources to help those in need.

The real negative meaning of entitlement closes our minds and hearts to everyone and everything else because we believe we have worked hard, been faithful, and deserve to reap the fruits of our labor and faithfulness. But it is our faith that enables us to keep everything in perspective and to recognize that all we are and all we have are blessings. We pray in the fourth Eucharistic Prayer at Mass - “You created us in your own image and entrusted the whole world to our care.” But God’s love is not only creative, it is also redemptive. We are saved from our ignorance, sinfulness, and half-hearted faith by God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the one who enables us to praise God at the beginning of Sunday Mass as we say, “Glory to God the in highest” and go on to praise God for sharing His life and love with us, uniting us with Himself and one another.

The nine lepers who just got on with a new, healed life lost the joy that only humble gratitude can bring. Humble gratitude raises us far beyond any thoughts of entitlement or thoughts that I have earned God’s love or anyone else’s love. We live in a world of political leaders. In our pledge of allegiance to the flag we say we are “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” But before we can say we are one nation under God, we humbly and gratefully realize we can only be one nation because of God and His blessings. Politics without God is a whirlpool of protecting self interests and conveniences, and putting down those who disagree. A political leader made the worst decision in human history - Pontius Pilate allowed Jesus to be condemned and crucified in a matter of less than twenty-four hours. His successors in our country today are promoting, defending, and legalizing the death of the most vulnerable through abortion. As St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said to President Clinton: “I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child.” We need God and His redemptive love because without Him we focus only on ourselves and become protective, defensive, and suspicious. 

I once again remind you that I am setting up a retreat for our parish in the first full week of Lent that will offer all parishioners the opportunity to take some time every week to share faith together. We communicate all day long on our phones and computers. We put many hours of screen time in every day. I hope and pray we will all take the time with the foundation this retreat will give us to recognize how blessed with are and how good God is to us. One of the best ways we can express humble gratitude is through prayers of thanks and praise and also by sharing our faith journey with one another. May we know the words of Jesus to the one grateful leper in today’s Gospel, “Stand up and go; your faith has save you!”

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you, we bless you,
we adore you, we glorify you.
We give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
You take away the sins of the world
have mercy on us;
You take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father:
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One,
You alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
With the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.