Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ten were cleansed: an attitude of gratitude

Written by guest blogger Tim Cone

Based on today’s Gospel - Luke 17:11-19

How grateful are we for the gifts our Father has given us? Are we thankful? Are we grateful? Or do we take them for granted? Do we go on with life once our prayer has been answered neglecting the fact that our Almighty God has directly intervened in our lives? It is an easy trap to fall into, being ungrateful. Most times we do it without acknowledging it. We may spend hours, days weeks, or even years praying for something, asking the Lord for a specific grace. But when the prayer is answered what do we do. Unfortunately, I can think of seemingly countless times when I have had prayers answered, and yet I find myself casually going about my day as if I was never wanting to begin with. I recognize this in my own life regarding money. When money is short and I don’t know how to pay for the bills that I have. I am so eager to go to the Lord to ask for help, asking him to give me what I need. Sometimes this goes on for days and weeks. Then our Lord will answer the prayer, sometimes through a random act of kindness from a stranger, or an unexpected check from the Knights of Columbus, or something, and I find myself the next day walking around as if I have not a care in the world. Where is my gratitude? Thanks be to God, as time has gone on and I have continued to walk with our Lord and grown closer to Him, gratitude has become more a part of my everyday speaking with Jesus, but it is a choice. The Father prompts us to offer praise and thanksgiving, and we have a choice to respond. An attitude of gratitude, as my friend calls it. A disposition of gratitude, realizing that everything that you have: the roof over your head, the shoes on your feet, the shirt on your back, the friends that you have, your job, your education, your very life and existence…. All of it is a completely free gift from our heavenly Father. What Jesus points out in the gospel is a stern warning never to forget that. When we acknowledge the Giver of these gifts, we are acknowledging who He truly is. When we acknowledge who He truly is, we are exercising our gift of Faith. That is why Jesus says to the Samaritan, “stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” He acknowledged that it was God that had saved him and healed him, and it is a most fitting response that he would return to the Source out of gratitude. Today, slow down, look around, everything that you see, everyone that you encounter, everything that you have has been given to you by our Father, because He loves you. Thank Him. Spend time with Him. Love Him. Do something nice for another in thanksgiving for the gifts that our Lord has given you.

--Tim Cone

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Time is Now.

I want to be like Jesus.  It’s a desire that has been set in my heart from a young age.  Some days I am tired and my desire to be like Jesus is taken on more as a duty, but with grace, some days that desire is present to my heart in a way that burns with a heat that I can’t even imagine it cooling off.  The last few weeks have been busy ones, slowly feeling the Lord place more logs upon the fire.  Advent was filled with a deeper realization of Christ’s gift in becoming man, that He really did humble Himself out of Love for me.  Christmas was the fulfillment of those weeks of thought and preparation. 

Then I took a little trip to the city of Rome.  This may be a surprising point, but I didn’t go because I have a deep love of Church architecture.  I didn’t go because I’m enthralled by history.  I didn’t go because I had a mission to see specific saints who have helped me on my faith journey.  No, I went because there are a few brothers studying there who have cared for me well, and it has been some time since I’ve seen them.  The opportunity to go to Rome before my Jterm in Ireland arose and I began to save money for the trip, as I would even if it were going to be a trip to say some small unheard town with no history.  I had few expectations and an excitement to just be, as it was still Christmas break. 

I encountered our Lord though.  I encountered Him in a new and deep way.  We entered St. Peter’s square, and it was busy.  Very busy.  It was loud and diverse and not necessarily what you’d think of as a place of prayer but I was overtaken by peace.  I knew in my heart of hearts that these people around me were friends of the Church.  I didn’t know all their backgrounds, I imagine many were Catholic, some were ‘Catholic’, others some other form of Christianity, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and some I don’t knows.  Yet, there we were, in the arms of Holy Mother Church. I knew peace in the moments of rest in looking around and praying for everyone I saw but I also was moved back to a radical desire to be like Jesus.  I wanted to love each one with a unique and radical love.  I wanted to listen to them, and know their stories-their hearts.  I wanted to lay down my preconceived notions, my tiredness, and my sinful nature and just be Christ to them.  The Lord allowed me on this trip to, at least, in some small way, love like the Church or as the Church really.  Albeit, I wasn’t able to talk with each person I saw because they were countless, I lifted them up in prayer that they may know that they are seen and loved even by those they do not know.  Those I did have the chance to talk to I tried to smile a deep smile that only Christ’s love could produce.  I thought most nights, and even having left, I’m still thinking about these people and the love stirred up in my heart.  I’m holding on tight to the grace.  I don’t want to lose this love because of my selfishness.
Everyday, we pass by so many people.  We have the opportunity to love them with a deep love flowing from our relationship with Christ and we don’t.  It’s hard to be vulnerable and pull down our walls of fear, or shyness, or pride, or self-doubt.  It’s hard to remember to choose true love in every moment.  It’s hard to recognize that community that we are as human beings.  But it’s worth it.  To love another, and to be loved are two of the most beautiful gifts that anyone could take part in.  For whatever reason, we place those things on a pedestal and act as if a quest is needed to enter into them.  But it’s simple.  Look around.  These are all our brothers and sisters, and they are worth loving.  Your love is good and worth sharing.  I want to be like Jesus, and I know that even though we can’t recognize that desire always, that it’s in us.  We can share in His gift of life. 
I pray that we can continue to see others as a gift, and a love can be stirred up in us for them…a love that isn’t cheap or repetitive but a sacrificial radical love for each individual, that even in clinging to our crosses we may revel in the pain for the sake of those we love.