Our readings today invite us into gratitude, an apt contemplation as we anticipate Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The Gospel reading recounts the familiar story of Jesus curing the ten lepers. As you remember, only one of them returned to thank God. “One of them, realizing that he had been cured, came back praising God in a loud voice.” Notice that the leper first “realized” that he had been cured. I’d like to invite us into a reflection on realizing what God is doing for us.
The first reading from Paul also draws us into the realization of how astonishing God’s love is for us. Paul says, “…(God) saved us, not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he lavished on us through Jesus Christ our Savior.…” The word “lavish” has its roots in the French word “lavasse” meaning “torrent of rain.” Its definitions include “very generous or liberal in giving or spending; more than enough; very abundant.” This points to the truth of God’s heart eager to pour out his abundant love on us. This invites us into the mystery of God who loves us so much that He continually seeks after us, pursues us, loves us, forgives us, cares for us and calls us to His own heart. Notice that the emphasis is on God’s action, not ours. Jesus saved us, not because we “got it right,” but because He loves us so.
In order to know this love ever-present with us, the Scriptures invite us to stop and reflect on what God is doing for us and how God is moving in our days. The first “step” of being grateful is realizing that the gift has been offered. So often, we fail to receive the gifts being offered because we are so busy about what we must do. As we do receive, gratitude can grow in our hearts, thus affecting our actions, attitudes, and behaviors. Jean Corbon, in the book, Wellspring of Worship states that the most fruitful human activity is the ability to receive God. How deeply this truth reorients our hearts! No longer do we become focused on what we have to do, but rather we can focus on having the humility to receive what God is already laboring to do for us—in His lavish love.
In his holiness, Ignatius of Loyola would often contemplate on the gifts of God all around. He would invite retreatants into meditating on nature, the world in general, and on very specific concretes of a person’s life to see God laboring FOR ME. Sun, rain, food, air, trees, friends, coffee…all this is FOR ME. Ignatius became so filled with gratitude for all things, that even seeing a blade of grass could bring tears of gratitude to his eyes. He would invite others to see God at work, laboring for us, “in all things.”
An invitation for you and me in these days of giving thanks is to
stop to receive all that God wants to give us. What are the concrete
ways that God is trying to comfort you today? How is God providing
for you and those you love? What is His love pouring on you this
day? May our hearts taste His lavish love ever more deeply so that
we might live out of a deep gratitude that reaches out lavishly to others!
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