The readings from this past Sunday are all about gratitude. We all know what this means. When we do a big favor for someone, we expect a sign of appreciation. If a person doesn’t show gratitude for what he has received, something is missing in him.
There are some people we can’t thank enough. Think of our parents, and all that they have done for us. How could we ever adequately thank them? Usually, the best way is to live life well, and practice all the values and virtue they tried to instill in us.
Now think about what God has done for each of us, and all that He has given us. It helps to remember that we are here for only 70-80 years, and then we must leave. God’s plan for us is that we spend all eternity with Him in Heaven. So we need to get our perspectives right. We are not to get so focused on this life, and this world, that we lose sight of our true home in another world, Heaven. A visit to the local cemetery brings this reality home to us.
We look to our Faith for a sense of purpose and meaning for life. That is why we come to Mass every Sunday. We want to keep our relationship with God strong and alive. We want to see things clearly, from God’s perspective – what this life is all about and what we are called to do.
Reflect for a moment on all that God has done for us. God called us into existence. He gave us our health, our parents, our family, our home. He has blessed us with all the material advantages we enjoy, like bumper harvests. He gave us our talents. He gave us our freedom. After this life on earth, He is calling us to be with him for all eternity in Heaven, sharing in His own Communion of love, life, goodness, truth and beauty. Are we aware of these things? Do we show our appreciation to God for all these things?
God the Father sent us the greatest gift possible. He sent His only begotten Son into our world. Think about that. Jesus, whom the whole universe could not contain, humbled himself to take on our frail human condition. Do we thank the Father for this?
Consider what Jesus has done for us. He came to save us from our sins. He spent three years teaching us about God and His plan for us as human beings. Then He took our sins upon Himself and allowed himself to be tortured, nailed to a cross, and die, so that our sins could be forgiven, and we could be reconciled to God. He came to re-open the gates of heaven for us. Do we thank Jesus for this?
And the Holy Spirit, what has He done for us? At Pentecost He came to found the Church. He teaches us the deeper meaning of the Gospels. He strengthens us in the Sacrament of Confirmation, and gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He teaches us how to use all the sacraments well, especially the sacrament of Reconciliation. Do we thank the Holy Spirit for all of this?
Now, how do we express our appreciation to God? We learn how to love, as God loves. We develop all our talents and place them at the service of God and others. We learn more about God’s plan for us and for the world. We read the Bible, the Catechism, the National Catholic Register, and watch EWTN. Then we put our faith into practice.
The national elections are approaching. God gave us a country governed by a democracy, by self-rule, by a people who govern themselves; a nation of, by and for the people. We should be very grateful for this. But how do we concretely show our gratitude? We do so by being responsible citizens, by making those people in public life be accountable to us and to our values. This includes voting responsibly. We must know the voting record and the positions and values of candidates running for public office. If they do not promote our values, but attack them instead, then we do not want them to be in positions of power over us.
We need to take a good look at what the judicial branch of the government is doing to our country. Think of Roe vs. Wade, that removed the protection of the law from the unborn. Now, we slaughter one million of our babies every year, with the approval of the Supreme Court. More recently, think of Obergefell vs. Hodges, which has redefined marriage, in contempt of God’s law, natural law, and the traditions and history of our country.
Supreme Court Justice, Anton Scalia, recently deceased, in his dissenting opinion to Obergefell vs. Hodges, said this: “A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” He said: “It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it as enemies of the human race.”
Here in Kansas there are also real problems with some of our judges. In 2015 Kansas voters, acting through their elected representatives enacted a ban on abortions using the inhumane dismemberment method on fully-formed unborn children. The next year seven judges on the Kansas Court of Appeals blocked the ban, by claiming – for the first time ever – that our state constitution protects abortion, even abortion by dismemberment. These judges created a never before recognized Kansas right to abortion, resulting in a Kansas version of Roe v. Wade. They invented a “Kansas Constitutional Right” to dismemberment abortions.
Good citizens take full responsibility for their rights as citizens, and hold their public officials accountable to them. They place good candidates in public office, and remove offending ones.
If we have been given many gifts from God, then we show our appreciation by using them well.