Today’s reading from Paul’s letter to Timothy is, for me, like most of Paul – something that I have difficulty understanding. And the gospel story presents a theological dilemma that persists, and will persist, until each of us dies and finally knows the answer – is there a resurrection? If there is what will it be like? I don’t think it would be fruitful for me to try to wrap my mind around the overall meaning of these passages and offer a reflection.
But there are, I think, some wonderful nuggets in these readings that I find most helpful in trying to navigate my life:
“I am grateful to God . . .”
“He saved us and called us to a holy life . . .”
“He is not God of the dead but of the living.”
For what am I grateful to God – where to start! As I write this it is a wonderful spring morning, just after a gentle rain. The flowers are bursting with color, the birds are singing and chirping, full of the energy of life that has no memory of yesterday and no foreboding about tomorrow. The fresh smells of newly mown grass, and the blooms of spring, waft across the yard. I am grateful to be in this moment, and to have the senses to see and smell and hear all this beauty that God has created.
I am grateful for the life of my wife, who has journeyed with me these past 39 years (well, 44 if you count our extended courtship; somebody had to keep going to school . . .) and our children, and our grandchild. Seeing the world open up through his eyes brings even more awe to what I have seen God create.
At the time I am writing this, we are commemorating a holiday in the United States that originally started as a devotion to the memory of those men and women who lost their lives in service to our country. But it also has become a broader recognition of the lives of those who have preceded us, and upon whom we build our current life. And so I am grateful for each of them.
I am grateful that God has not abandoned us, but calls us back to re-union by living a holy, a blessed, a spiritual life. And I am grateful that God is a God of the living, and focuses on our life on this wonderful earth that God has created.
I could go on. I find as I stop to reflect on the people and things and gifts from God for which I am grateful, negative thoughts, and frustrations, and events and injustices and things for which I am not so readily grateful seem to get pushed aside. But when I do reflect on the negatives – the death of a loved one, a disease or injury that changes my life, a disappointment at work (yes, there can be disappointments at a Jesuit university – it isn’t heaven on earth!!), and hold them at the same time as the positives, I find the good things seem so much more valuable, so much sweeter, and the negatives don’t feel nearly as suffocating and threatening. I feel a gratitude for the negatives, because they help me grow and more deeply appreciate the positives.
And so my prayer today is for the grace to be ever grateful for the many good, and not so good, things that God has given to me.
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