13th Sunday after Pentecost 23.8.15 Thanksgiving
It is possible to take Almighty God for granted. As soon as we have whatever we ask from Him we are gone. This is ‘Gimme’ praying – Gimme this, Gimme that!
It is treating God like a servant or a secretary. When things go smoothly enough for long enough we can forget all about Him.
Instead we should thank Him – thank Him often and eternally.
To thank God is not just good manners; nor just an insurance that if we thank Him for the last blessing we are more likely to receive the next one. No, we thank Him because it is right to do so. It is something that needs to happen, and we need to do it.
Dignum et justum est. It has to be done. There is a kind of cosmic balance involved. God gives goodness out all the time. The creation, receiving His goodness, needs to return it in the form of thanksgiving.
To take God for granted is to become alienated from Him. We may not mean Him any offence; but we will surely be separating ourselves from Him.
We see plainly the consequences of this separation in the various disasters around us on the moral sphere. If we do not acknowledge Him we will have a distorted view of reality and humanity.
This in turn will lead to lots of sin and destructive behaviour.
How much better the world would run and how much happier we could be if we did acknowledge God’s centrality and superiority.
While it is right to see God as close to us, and providing for our needs, we must maintain a sense of His majesty and not forget that He is God.
We are tempted to fashion our own version of God, like the golden calf – a god who will make no demands on us.
When we thank Him we open ourselves to a transcendent view of reality; and break free from just the material and physical concerns of this world.
Then we find our true status before Him – we are infinitely inferior, and very fortunate that He treats us as well as He does.
If we humble ourselves before Him we will be exalted. But even when exalted we still remain grateful.
We are lucky He even made us in the first place. We had no claim upon Him then, and even less now that we have sinned. So we can at least be grateful. If we make it to Heaven it will be only by His mercy and grace. There the phrase ‘eternally grateful’ will apply.
In today’s Epistle we are reminded that Salvation is free gift. If we receive it gratefully and humbly the gift will take effect.
The moment we think we can do it ourselves it all starts to fall apart.
Our world denies God at every level, and many people pride themselves on doing that. And some want to stamp out every trace of recognition of God.
We must do the opposite of all that and bring Him back into public view. We must be the light on the hilltop. It is imperative that He be made known – because it is right and fitting; because we need it for our own sake; and because those living in darkness need it.
One man came back to say ‘thank you’. This has been our story ever since. The Mass is an expression of thanks, among other things. Where would we be without Jesus Christ and His sacrifice?
But we are not without Him and therefore in a very fortunate position. Gratias agamus Domino Deo Nostro!