VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, S.J.
There are big and small things we have to thank the Lord of heaven. The big ones we do not normally ignore but the small ones we generally do. We just had the miraculous cure of a cancer patient and we run to thank the Lord over and over again. But that we had a good night’s sleep we often do not thank the Lord. When ten lepers were cured by the Lord, only one came back to say thank you and he was not a Jew but a foreigner. That seems to be par for the course. We forget to say thank you.
In almost any nation but especially in the Hispanic and Filipino, “ingrato” or “walang utang na loob” is considered a big insult. On the other hand, it is not good to have someone indebted so that they cannot get out of the debt of gratitude. I remember a relative who was aloof to my father in contrast to his other siblings. He was concerned that he could never repay my father for sending him to medical school and he said so. My father had no intention of requiting from him gratitude for the rest of his life. He had already forgotten that he had helped him get through medical school.
If we made a list of the things we should be grateful for, one of first should be that we have had peace in our country for so long. Those of us who have been through the war know how miserable one could be in war. When the fighting started we did not know where to get the next meal or where the next fire would start. We must be thankful for the peace that we enjoy. There are threats of war but they are far and vague. We have some internal killings but they are more because of our own depravity. Peace is a wonderful gift and we have to thank the Lord for it. We could not have accomplished it by ourselves but the Lord willed it so. External factors are not within our control but the Lord has given us peace.
Personally and individually there are many small things we have to thank God for. We begin with our lives. That we have life, we ought to be thankful. Our lives are not our own. Life is a gift of the Lord. Who can say that he has life on his own? Then we have to thank the Lord for our health. We all have some sickness or health problems but our health is normally good enough. Then we have to thank the Lord for our families and friends, for our communities that make life possible. We have to thank the Lord for our jobs or sources of income. We should make a list of things that we should be grateful for. We are often surprised that there are so many that we neglect to thank God for.
Besides thanksgiving, we need to adore Our Creator. We need to adore and offer sacrifice in thanksgiving. That is the obligation of creatures. Since we were made by God we have to adore in return and offer sacrifice. We join our own small self deprivations to that of Our Lord when we go to Mass on Sundays. Many go to Mass and do not realize that they are kingdom priests who, together with the ministerial priest, offer the Son to the Father in heaven. We need to adore and the essence of adoration is sacrifice. For all the good things that God has given us, there is nothing that pleases Him more than offering the Sacrifice of His Son to the Father at Mass. We offer the one eternal sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross every time we go to Mass. There is only one eternal sacrifice that is pleasing to God and that is of Himself on the Cross. And we join our puny self-deprivations to this eternal sacrifice of the Mass as He asked us to do. We thank the Lord for His many gifts and offer the Son to the Father every time we go to Mass.