GRATITUDE

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Rudyard Kipling was known to be a successful writer. A cynical US reporter found him one day and, in an attempt to embarrass him, said, ‘Mr Kipling, it has been suggested that you make as much as $100 for every word you write’. The reporter then pulled out a $100 not, handed it to Kipling and said, ‘Could you  give me a $100 word?’ Kipling folded the note, put it in his pocket and said, ‘Thanks’.

Thanks, of course, is a $100 word. But it’s worth much more than that. It’s one of the two magic words that we teach children to say, along with ‘please’. And just as a parent is disappointed when the child fails to show basic manners, so Jesus too, appears a bit disappointed when only one leper returns to say thank you for being cured.

When a person doesn’t bother to say thank you it’s usually because they do not see the need. Whatever it is that has been done for them they consider it either to be their right or something of slight importance. Of course, that is usually because they have become desensitised to what’s going on around them; they have become jaded and prone to ingratitude.

Since you got up this morning, how many times have you uttered the phrase ‘thank you’? And how many times have you thanked God so far? What do you have to be thankful for and is it worth thanking God? Surely God knows?

The actual act of acknowledging our gratitude makes us more grateful because it makes us more aware of the reasons we have to be grateful and it allows us to enjoy the benefits of our privileged positions. Yet we often fail to thank God for our health until we are in danger of losing it. We scarcely think about the amount and the choice of food that is at our fingertips until we run out. And we often are unappreciative of people who make our lives fuller.

Eucharist mean thanksgiving. It is the act by which the Church gathers to hear God’s word, to thank God for all the blessing of our life in Christ and it is the privileged moment when we call upon the Holy Spirit to make us a grateful people worthy to share the body and blood of Christ.

But it would be a pity if we waited until we were inside a church before thanking those whose debt we are in. And that includes God.

DOES PRAYER REALLY WORK?

DOES PRAYER REALLY WORK?

 We can sense the frustration in today’s first reading of someone who seems to be calling on God in distress and yet nothing appears to be happening. Is prayer nothing more than mouthing words that can have no real effect on our situation? Is God simply playing with us?

A good question to ask is “What do I think I am doing when I pray?” Often we are letting God know what we feel and asking him to change things to the way we want them to be. At worst we end up thinking that we are informing God, and at best we find ourselves pouring our heart out.

Pouring our heart out is no bad thing. In fact, it’s what Jesus asks us to do in prayer. We don’t actually have to use any words to do this: we can simply and silently place ourselves consciously in God’s presence. And when we do this, we may find ourselves listening to God rather than talking. God is able to penetrate our busy thick skins and communicate his word to us.

When we are aware that God wants to get through to us, we are on the first step to letting him change us. For prayer is not about changing God but about conforming ourselves to the will of God. This does not mean that we stop praying for people in need, for things to be otherwise, but it does mean that we start to ask God to mould us, to allow ourselves to be used as part of his plans. God will often turn our ideas upside down in prayer, especially by pointing out that we don’t understand the whole picture.

If we seem to pray and pray and nothing happens, then either we are doing something wrong or God couldn’t care less. It’s more likely to be the former. Prayer does work when we put our own interests second and ask God to change us.