“I Want to See.”
By Blind Beggar Bart

The Importance of Gratitude

Stained window at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton PADear Bart,
The Sunday readings last 10/9/2016 continued to reverberate in me as the weeks passed. In the first reading (2 Kgs 5:14-17) Naaman, a non-Israelite, showed genuine gratitude to Elisha after being cured, while in the gospel (Lk 17:11-19), the Samaritan leper was grateful to Jesus who belonged to Jewish society that outcasts Samaritans. In the homily the priest emphasized the need to show gratitude more often than to focus on the shortcomings of others. He also lamented the fact that people nowadays don't say "thank you" but give more importance to their entitlements. Even in several management courses I have attended, the need for showing appreciation is highlighted. I could not agree less, as I have at times felt unappreciated for my efforts or gifts, probably because the recipients think it is my responsibility, or because they did not ask for my help or gift so they don't owe gratitude, or that the effort or gift is not what they wanted or is of no use to them. At the end of his homily, the priest quipped that even the practice of exchanging gifts during the Christmas season is contributing to this distorted sense of entitlement. A gift is supposed to be given without expecting anything in exchange! With that, I somehow felt convicted along with the the rest... –Wronged, 10/16/2016.

Dear “Wronged,”
It is indeed sad that people do not show appreciation nowadays. Government and capitalistic practices, knowingly or unknowingly, exascerbate the distorted sense of entitlement. Though there is really no conflict between between having a sense of entitlement and having a sense of gratitude - though having a sense of gratitude is definitely far more important that have an sense of entitlement - the problem lies in using entitlement as a reason to abuse the generosity of others and to rationalize that showing appreciation is not needed. Unless one admits to be an atheist, there is always a reason to say 'thank you' in everything, even when receiving something one is already entitled to. There are simply too many things involved that are unknown to us, leading to the event of receiving something. Recognizing that fact makes us recognize as well that we should give thanks ultimately to God. This understanding hinges on the depth of our faith. As acclaimed on the day's gospel reading: In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess 5:18).

People do not seem to recognize the need to say 'thank you' because of the human tendency to think first of one's self and what one does not have. But we all know that as Christians, we hope to grow beyond our self-centeredness in our journey of finding the Truth, and the joy and peace in this life and thereafter. Even if one's gift or effort has no value, the thought and effort put in it - no matter how little - are themselves already reasons for thanking, perhaps more than the gift itself. As the old cliche goes: It's the thought that (really) counts! ...and therefore deserves a sincere 'thank you' from the recipient.

While it is sad to think that your effort or gift goes unappreciated, you have to keep in mind that it somehow forms part of the recipient's own journey with the Lord. Your act of charity (love) towards the recipient assures recognition from the Lord for allowing yourself to be His instrument. In the same way, your experience of feeling unappreciated forms part of your own journey with the Lord. It is probably His way of showing you the current condition of your heart: perhaps you are still a slave to human affection, to worldy needs, etc., and not putting God first. This brings us back to the mass readings: When Naaman was cured, he resolved to offer Holocaust only to the God of Israel. When the Samaritan leper was healed, he ran back to Jesus to pay him homage in thanksgiving. Do you do the same? It is not only when we are cured or when we receive blessings that we should show gratitude. The second reading (2 Tm 2:8-13) reminds us of Christ's unwavering faithfulness in his promise of salvation despite our shortcomings, truly deserving of our eternal gratitude. 

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." -Cicero.

If you would like to email me and hopefully find my response in this column, please send it to admin@cafepearsall.com (for now) addressed to me, or go to Contact Us of this website. Links to previous articles are found below. –Bart, 10/17/2016.

Previous Posts:
The Scriptures are Fulfilled (1/23/2016)
A Family Prayer in the Year of Mercy (1/10/2016)
Life's Too Short (8/14/2015)
The Redundancy in Unconditional Love (3/15/2015)
Loving Submission (12/28/2014)
Are We Mere Spectators? (4/16/2014)
My Blindness (4/13/2014)
Spiritual Blindness (4/2/2014)
God Loves You! (3/16/2014)
That All May Be One in Repentance (3/7/2014)
No one Is, So Why Be Perfect? (3/2/2014)
Mature Love, (2/5/2014)
Let It Be Done According to Your Word: The Vanity of the Plans We Make (12/9/2013)
Our Struggles Within (8/9/2011)
Lovingly Correcting Others (6/18/2010)
Our Uncontrollable Lives (4/11/2010)
The Ultimate Question (4/4/2010)