4th Sunday of the Year (C) 2019

‘If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.’
Let me say the very same thing but using slightly different words;
If I visit my elderly parents regularly. If I bring them gifts. if I make sure that they are aware of what I do for them, all because it is what is expected of me by my relatives and acquaintances and importantly, so that I inherit the lion’s
share of their legacy; I am just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I go to Mass regularly, if I ‘say my prayers’ diligently, if I have received all the sacraments as directed and at the proper times, if I give regularly to my parish, if I help out from time to time when asked but am not motivated by a sense of gratitude to my God and Creator for all I am and have, I gain nothing.
Sobering words, but the message is loud and clear.
In religion, in my relationship with my God, In my relationship with my marriage partner and family, it is not so much about what I do as it is about why I do it. Haven’t we all cherished a gift, which may in itself be useless and even unwanted, because of the spirit in which it was given and the gratitude, respect and love it represents?
God is the same. Did God not make us ‘in His own image and likeness?’
All the things we do in church, the time we spend in prayer and religious affairs, are all good and even necessary, but what gives them life, what gives them meaning for God, what gives them ‘wuumph,’ is the sense of gratitude that underpins them.
The absence of this ‘wuumph’ is why I can find religion so barren. It is why I can find my duty to parents and family so irksome. I treat both as a duty and not as an opportunity to express gratitude.
Gratitude, respect and love do not just naturally appear out of nowhere. They must be sought after and nourished.
Just think of the dedication, self-denial, slavery, which having and nurturing children involves. How fulfilling it is, if and when a son or daughter says thank you.
I must accustom myself to think in the same way about my God.
I must think of religion as saying thank you to my God.
For instance it is very helpful to spend my time preparing to go to Mass and the journey there, reviewing the reasons for thanking God – What has God given me? Existence, being, life, everything I am and have, freedom from the fear of death, guarantee of resurrection from death, salvation and sharing in the Eternal life of God, to mention just a few. If I exercise myself in this manner I will arrive at church with gratitude in my heart and eagerness to express it. Otherwise I arrive cold and unsure as to why I’m there.