God wants us to be thankful
by Fr. Roy Cimagala

It’s really for our own good. To be thankful to God for all his blessings to us, including especially his mercy, is really for our own benefit rather than for any good we can give to him.

God does not need anything from us. What he wants is that we learn to be with him always since we are his children, created in his image and likeness. He wants to share his life with us. God loses nothing if we choose not to be with him. But without him, we are the ones who would lose everything.

This, to me, is the precious lesson we can learn from the gospel about the 10 lepers cured by Christ. (Lk 17,11-19) Only one of them, the unlikely Samaritan, came back to thank Christ for the healing. But Christ asked, ‘where are the other nine?’ Yes, Christ expects us to be thankful to him.

A heart that is not thankful is an isolated heart. It’s a lonely heart that thinks it can live and do things simply by itself, in violation of our nature and what we actually feel deep in our hearts. It has no other way but to be unhappy.

A thankful heart will never be alone and sad. It recognizes the many blessings and good things that it continues to receive. And it knows where they come from, and also for what purpose they are given. It will always be happy.

To be grateful is a necessity for us. It does us a lot of good. It keeps alive the reality that we depend on God and others for everything. It strengthens our intimacy with him, and our awareness that whatever happens in our life, God is always in control.

It makes us keenly aware of the all-powerful and merciful providence of God. With that providence, we would know that even the dark, negative things in life have meaning and purpose. They, atleast, give excitement and beauty in life, because life, without these elements and when it only has all things bright and rosy, would be boring.

It keeps us humble and simple, otherwise we start inventing things and distorting reality. It keeps our feet on the ground even as we let our mind and heart soar to high heavens.

It makes our heart tender and at the same time strong, a perfect foil to our tendency to be hardened or to get lost as we tackle life’s many challenges. In other words, it helps us to maintain our humanity well, resistant to the temptation to become mechanical and robotic as we face life’s trials and hardships.

It helps us to be mindful of others, thus strengthening the unity among ourselves. It will make us more attentive and appreciative of others and of what they actually do to us, even if they commit some mistakes. It will loosen the grip of our self-absorption and the unhealthy sense of self-sufficiency that leads us to selfishness.

Gratitude forms an essential part of our relation with God. It is the adequate response we give upon seeing the continuous attention and care God gives us. It makes us stick to the reality of our life. It keeps us from inventing a world unhinged from its Creator and from others.

In short, it keeps us to be with God, which is what is proper to us. To be ungrateful can only make the many good things God has given us to turn sour and dangerous. It will only be a matter of time before these blessings would spoil us.

We need to do everything to cultivate this abiding mentality of thanksgiving. We have to deliberately do this task, given the desensitizing effect of the flurry of activities and other allurements and concerns our modern world is bombarding us with.

We have to see to it that everyday, we are conscious that we are always thanking God and others. In fact, we need to continue lifting our heart in thanksgiving all throughout unthe day, as a Latin phrase beautifully puts it: “Ut in gratiarum semper actione maneamus.” (May we always be giving thanks.)

A day without saying “thank you” is a bad day. It’s a clear sign we are quite self-immersed only, blind to the continuing proof of the goodness of God and the others. We have to get out of that predicament.

The practice of saying thank you will always go a long way in creating and keeping a good spirit in each one of us and in cultivating a healthy family and social life ever mindful of our need for God.

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