Archive for category Gratitude/Thanksgiving

John 12:1-17 The anointing at Bethany

As Jesus made His way towards Jerusalem where death awaits him, He stopped in the village of Bethany where He was invited to dinner party by a wealthy friend named Simon. In the course of the gathering, a woman interrupted the meal which shocked all those who were present.

What scandalized them? First, they were shocked because the woman who came to Jesus   loosened her hair in public. During that time, to loosen one’s hair in public even for a married woman, was a sign of grave immodesty. Second, they were shocked because the woman wasted lot of money when she anointed Jesus’ feet with precious ointment. When Mary anointed Jesus with an oil worth a whole year’s wages, Judas protested that the perfume could have been sold. It would have brought three hundred silver pieces (he’ll betray Jesus for just thirty), and then the money could have been given to the poor. Jesus, however, fully aware that he is a traitor, unconcerned about the poor,  and a thief.

The contrast between Judas and Mary of Bethany is powerful. Mary spent what she had on “very costly ointment” in a gesture of love, affection, and respect. While Judas complained for losing the money that does not belong to him in the guise of being concern for the poor.

How did Jesus react to that given situation? Jesus defended what the woman did for him out of gratitude and thanksgiving and then used that occasion to teach them about the virtue of hospitality and his imminent passion and death in the hands of the scribes and the pharisees who will deliver him to the pagans to be mocked, crucified and be killed.

For Jesus hospitality is more than just welcoming a guest into one’s house. It is more than just serving a guest with food and drink. For Jesus, hospitality is, above all, welcoming someone what he stands for or represents. This is the reason why he praised what Mary did to him than Martha who prepared everything for their meal when he visited their home once. On that ocassion Mary both as a friend and a disciple welcomed Jesus and what he stands for and represents.

Today is Monday of the Holy Week. On this day,  let us reflect on the prophetic anointing of Jesus by a woman named Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus who were close friends of Jesus), which foreshadowed Jesus’ imminent death, honored Him as God’s anointed, and poured out to Him love and devotion too deep for words. Her action reminds us that our journey through Holy Week is a matter of the heart.

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Luke 17:11-19 The Cleansing of Ten Lepers

If we are observant with what is happening around us we can notice that some people give yet they remember, remember and remember. While some people get, get and get and yet they forget. To which group of people do you belong? I hope and pray that you do not belong to both groups of people. Because as Christian we believe that it is more blessed to give without remembering and to receive without forgetting.

The theme of  today’s Gospel is gratitude – receiving without forgetting. “Gratitude,” said jazz musician Lionel Hampton, “is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”

What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it–would you be likely to give them another? God is the same way. Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that God has to offer, that  life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have: your life, good health, marriage, children, family, loved ones, friends, faith, job, achievements, success and beautiful world.

This is the central message of Gospel. If you still remember there were ten lepers who were shouting for mercy to Jesus in order that he may heal them and set them free from the curse of leprosy. And Jesus, out of great mercy, did what they requested. What happened next. Only one returned. He was Samaritan, a foreigner who is considered  an outcast, just like tax collector, public sinner, and pagan. While the other nine who were the Jews never dared to returned. Perhaps each of the nine has the following possible reasons:

One waited to see if the cure was real.
One waited to see if it would last.
One said he would see Jesus later.
One decided that he had never had leprosy.
One said he would have gotten well anyway.
One gave the glory to the priests.
One said, O well, Jesus didn’t really DO anything.
One said, just any rabbi could have done it.

Whatever that is, the fact that nobody returned to thank and praise God remains the same. But the story did not end there. What happened to the one returned? What did he received in return? His gratitude was not only praised but rewarded beyond his expectation. The nine received physical healing; the one who returned to thank the Lord received in addition the salvation of his soul.  Hence, a favor, a blessing, a gift received with gratitude is a gift multiplied.

“As stewards of God we must be truly appreciative of the things we receive.  One has said that, ‘Ingratitude is a crime more despicable than revenge which is only returning evil for evil, while ingratitude returns evil for good.’  You remember that of the ten lepers healed by Christ, only one returned to give thanks.  A beautiful legend tells the story of two angels that were sent forth throughout the land, each given a basket, one to gather up requests and the other thanksgivings. The angel of requests came back with her basket running over full. The angel of thanksgivings came back with her basket practically empty.  So it is in life.  It seems that all have requests to make, but few of us think to return and give thanks” (Heber Q. Hale  –  “Conference Report”, October 1919, p.172).

At the end of the day, try answering this question asked by William A. Ward: “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”

Prayer: “Lord, may I never fail to recognize your love and mercy. Else, let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you (Ps 137:1)! Fill my heart with gratitude and thanksgiving and free me from pride, discontentment, and ingratitude.   Help me to count my blessings with gratefulness and to give thanks in all circumstances.”

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