Last Updated: Thursday - 09/30/2010
October 4, 2010
Gratitude erases fear from our hearts
Prayer of thankfulness too often forgets God and the gift of his son Jesus
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 10, 2010
2 Kings 5.14-17
2 Timothy 2.8-13
Spring 2010 was difficult. Not only had one of my close friends and many people I admired perished in the April 10 catastrophe of the Polish presidential plane in Smolensk, but also my various professional and family plans were thwarted by the volcanic cloud which disrupted air traffic between Europe and North America.
It was with a heavy heart and mind in which images of the broken plane mingled with various memories that we finally got on the first available plane allowed to cross the Atlantic.
A few hours into the flight, we were warned that we were heading into a storm and we should expect severe turbulence.
Flight attendants took their seats and buckled up with somewhat uneasy faces - and stayed buckled up for the next four hours while we were tossed and shaken by high winds.
At one point, a woman in front of me started moaning and that did not help. Fear froze my hands and grasped my throat. I prayed but that did not help much. I felt we were doomed.
Suddenly, as if someone prompted me, I began to thank God.
I thanked him for everything - my kind parents, my loving grandmother who could charm treats for our hungry little bellies practically out of nothing, for the green mountain glades of Polish Tatry, the cry of Canada Geese above the autumn clouds, for the scent of lilacs, for our - my husband's and my - youth, for the first steps of our children and grandkids, for the kindness of daughters-in law, all family, friends of all walks, nations and colours - for everything.
It worked like magic. The more I thanked, the less I was afraid - until, despite the jolts and leaps of the plane, I was full of joy and strange gladness. As I pondered over various turns of my life, not always happy and definitely not sinless on my side, it became obvious to me that God is good, simply and unbelievably good and nothing can change that.
Should the plane fall apart, God will remain good - both to me and to all on it. We were safe, no matter what happens, in the hands of God.
Now I realize that I needed that experience to cure me of constant worrying and fearing "the worst" - for myself, my kids, my family . . . and to teach me to give thanks.
I often ponder over the lesson God gave me during that flight and the more I think about it, the more I realize that even though gratitude seemed to flow from me effortlessly, I did not thank him enough and when I did, I forgot the really important things.
I remembered the lilacs and the furry beauty of a squirrel on the front yard tree, but I did not remember Christ's birth as a baby, his lowering and humility. Why did I not thank him for the miracle of Christmas?
Have I thanked him for his death on the cross and the gift of saving blood? For the countless times when he forgave me my sins through priests, known and unknown? For his presence in the tabernacle I come to adore so rarely?
If so, how can I blame the nine Israelites of today's Gospel who, cured of physical illness, walked carelessly away and did not come back to thank?
Is my gratitude greater than theirs? My faith greater?
It was the Samaritan, the heretic of those times, the infidel, who showed humility and gratitude . . . and heard that his faith had saved him.
As for myself, all I can count on is God's mercy "which is greater than all his deeds."