Bottom line: Our goal is gratitude, especially for the greatest earthly treasure - our children. "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever."
This is the third homily in our summer series on gratitude. So far we have seen that we need to start with small things: like a mustard seed or that God gives us hands, eyes and feet - and that we have them for another day. Last Sunday we saw gratitude for the great gift of fatherhood that God gave when he created us male and female. Today (quite appropriately) we give thanks for children - especially as we see the man whose daughter falls mortally ill and he calls on Jesus.
Before going into gratitude for children, I want to note two other causes for gratitude that we see in today's readings. First, for living on this planet. The Book of Wisdom says, "For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome" For sure, this world has many dangers, but God made the earth good. We should give thanks to God for letting us live on this amazing planet - especially for our own beautiful valley.
St. Paul mentions another reason for gratitude. In taking up a collection for the needy in Jerusalem, he tells the Corinthians, "your abundance at the present time should supply their needs". You and I also have abundance. A person here, working for minimum wage can actually earn three times as much as a school teacher in Peru - and about 25% more than the average medical doctor. We should be grateful for living in this country. More on that next Sunday which is July 4.
So gratitude for our planet and gratitude for our country. Our biggest gratitude is for our children. Each child is a treasure greater than all the buildings and cars combined. We can see that in the Gospel when the daughter of the synagogue officer falls grievously ill, apparently dead. Jesus takes her hand and says, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" Those were the most beautiful words the man had ever heard. No wonder we have them in their original Aramaic.
In raising that child to life, we can see that Jesus wants to lift our children spiritually. It ultimately depends on Jesus, but we can help. How? Well, we have to start with gratitude. Give God thanks every day for your children and grandchildren. Recognize their achievements. Every step toward goodness is a step toward God.
At the same time, we should have gratitude even for afflictions. We would like to protect our children from everything hurtful, but we have to recognize that God has a purpose for allowing anguish. St. Augustine said to God, "You have created us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." God is at work in our children drawing them to himself.
So while we give thanks even for suffering, we thank God for raising up people who can touch our children's hearts. We do see movements of renewal in our church, even in our archdiocese, for example an initiative to enable young people and children to give their own testimony to how God works in their lives.
I know there is enormous suffering because our children and grandchildren have distanced themselves from the faith. Some of them consider God irrelevant to their lives. Others see faith as negative, a kind of hindrance. And of course we have to acknowledge that bad example has driven away many of our children. Next Sunday, even while we celebrate the Fourth of July, we will see how Jesus dealt with rejection by his family members.
Today, I ask you to remember the theme of this homily series: "The aim of life is appreciation." Our goal is gratitude, especially for the greatest earthly treasure - our children. "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever." Amen
Spanish Version (Word document)
From Archives (13th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru