Life in Christ Week 5: Give Thanks to the Lord

(Homily for Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A)

Message: Gratitude builds faith. The more we say thank you the more our faith will grow.

Happy Mother's Day!

We are now in the fifth week of Easter and the fifth homily on Life in Christ. Last week I talked about gratitude. This week I want to go deeper into that theme. Gratitude is central to our Life in Christ. In some way gratitude is our Life in Christ. You and I have nothing that we have not received: from our parents, from other people, ultimately from God. As today's Psalm says, "Give thanks to the Lord."

Last week I told Archbishop Sartain's humorous story about God sending a man to save a drowning woman's grandson. Instead of thanking God she lifts up her eyes and says, "He had a hat."

Well that's me often - and I suspect sometimes you. We've been given everything then we become sad when one part is taken away.

By way of contrast Archbishop Sartain told about a Jewish prayer called Dayenu which means, "It would be sufficient." If God had only led us through the Red Sea, but not to Mount Sinai, it would be sufficient. If God had only given the manna, but not guided us to the Promised Land, it would be sufficient.

I've been thinking about that prayer in relation to the death of my Peruvian godson, Fr. Narciso. We had plans for example for him to come here for the month of October and we hoped eventually he could come to the Archdiocese of Seattle for several years.

I don't know why the Lord said no to those dreams. I don't know why on April 24 God took Fr. Valencia away from us. Someday I hope to see.

For today I want to be able to say that Jewish prayer: Even if I had only known him as a seminarian and not seen his ordination, dayenu, it would be sufficient. Even if we worked together in Peru, but never in the United States, dayenu, it would be sufficient. Even if he came once to Monroe, but never a second time, dayenu, it would be sufficient.

It's too soon of course to say that prayer with full sincerity. Maybe with my mom I could say it peacefully. She died 17 years ago, but I think about her every day. I have her and my dad's picture in the room where I pray. I am grateful to God for my mom. I received so much from her - starting with the gift of life itself. At the same time I have regrets. As I get older I remember some of the things I said and did that hurt her. And I know I have not always lived in way that honors her and my dad.

Yet for all that I am deeply grateful for my parents. Not that they were perfect. My dad had his own demons. And my mom, how can I put it? If a modern version of my mom came for counseling I would have plenty of advice for her. (smile) Not that a son should counsel his mother, but you get the idea.

My parents weren't perfect, but you know God does not give us perfect parents. He assigns to each the parents we need. And he tells us simply, honor your father and mother. He says if we do that we have two blessings: a long life and an abundant life. That's not bad, eh? Two pretty good promises. For our children's sake we teach them to honor their mother and father.

So trust God. Say to Jesus, "Jesus, I trust in you." He tells us today, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me."

Trust Jesus. Begin your prayer by thanking him. That should be our first step. Next Sunday we will see the second step.

For today, remember this: Gratitude builds faith. The more we say thank you, the more our faith will grow. Rather than focus on what we are missing, remember what we actually have. Say the Hebrew prayer, Dayenu. It is sufficient. Give thanks to God. Amen.

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Spanish Version

From Archives (Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A):

2014: Journey to Hope Week 5
2011: The Truth
2008: A Virgin Path
2005: Three Kinds of Men
2002: I Am The Way

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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