Homily on the 28th Sunday
There is this story about this holy man who was always curious to know what happens when we pray. One day his guardian angel took him to Heaven showing him around. The angel took him to three different major offices. The first office was a massive one which was filled with 100 of thousands of angels. The angels explained, “This is the Receiving Station. In this place all petitions to God said in prayer are received.” It was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on huge sheets of paper from people all over the world. The holy man exclaimed wow… How busy it is here!!
Then the angel took him to the second office. The angel explained to him, “This is the Packaging and Delivery Station. In this place, the graces and blessings people have asked for are processed and delivered to them.” The holy man noticed again how busy it was there. 100 of thousands of angels are working day and night at that station, since so many blessings had been requested. Finally, the angel took him to a very small office station. To his great surprise, the holy man observed that there was only just one angel sitting there and he was sitting there lazy doing nothing. “This is the Acknowledgment Station,”. The angel seemed embarrassed.
“How is it that there is no work going on here?” the holy man asked. “So sad,” the angel explained. “After people receive the blessings that they have asked for, very few people send back acknowledgments.” “How does one acknowledge God’s blessings?” The holy man asked. “Simple,” the angel answered. Just say, “Thank you, Lord. “What blessings should they acknowledge?” The man asked again.
“If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world population. If you have money in the bank, and in your wallet, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy people. And if you have a computer and a smart phone, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity.” “If you woke up this morning with more health than illness. You are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.” “If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation… You are ahead of 700 million people in the world.” “If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.” “If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you’re unique to all those in doubt and despair…….” “Ok,” the holy man said. “What now? How can I start?” The Angel said, “Count your blessings every day and thank God!!!
I was invited to Dinner at someone’s house! As we were sitting down to eat- beginning from the Father to Emily the 7 years old saying out loud how the Lord has blessed them that day and at the end singing a song of thanksgiving! The father said to me, this is our tradition every day. I grew up in a very difficult situation; but the Lord has been very good to me and without Him, I wouldn’t be what I am today! I am very grateful. And I am teaching my family to be very grateful!
There are people who are thankful in this world, and there are people who aren’t. The message of the Scripture today is that God’s people should always be a thankful people. Psalm 147 is a psalm of praise! A psalm of prayer! A psalm of thanksgiving! And such a prayer is not that uncommon throughout Scripture. The Scriptures constantly admonishes us to “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…” Colossians 4:2-3. “…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6. The Bible repeatedly tells again and again that we need to Praise God, Thank God Lift His name on high. Thanksgiving should be something that permeates our every prayer. God’s people should always be thankful people, why does the Bible seem to constantly remind us to be thankful? Well, because thanksgiving doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. I met a young lady with a great job, handsome husband and two beautiful children. She still feels that the world is against her” You would think it would uncharacteristic for a Christian to be an ungrateful person, and yet Christians can fall victim to a complaining and grumbling mindset. What would cause us to take so much for granted? Well, because we often fail to take the advice of Scripture. To be thankful people we need to: “Count Your Many Blessings”.
We have a great missionary priest in our religious order. When I was in seminary, one time he took a bunch of seminarians to a leprosy colony in India. We were leading prayer service for those people in the leprosy colony. As we were finishing up the prayer service, there was time for one more song. So the priest asked if anyone had a request. There was man sitting on the front chair. He turned around. “It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,”. “The man’s nose and ears were entirely gone. The disease had destroyed his lips as well. He lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings? Overcome with emotion, the priest and seminarians left the service. One of the seminarians asked “father, I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”“Yes I will,” the priest replied, “but I’ll never sing the same way.”
Naaman was thankful that the Lord healed him of leprosy. He offered holocausts and sacrifices to the Lord (2 Kgs 5:17). Paul was thankful that the Lord saved him. He suffered “as a criminal, even to the point of being thrown into chains” (2 Tm 2:9). He was eventually martyred by being beheaded. The Samaritan was thankful that he was healed of leprosy. “He threw himself on his face at the feet of Jesus and spoke His praises” (Lk 17:16). “A woman known in the town to be a sinner” (Lk 7:37) was so thankful to Jesus for forgiving her sins (see Lk 7:41-43) that “she brought in a vase of perfumed oil and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping so that her tears fell upon His feet. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissing them and perfuming them with the oil” (Lk 7:38).
We likewise have reason to be thankful. Jesus has died on the cross for each of us. He has freed us from our sins and given us a new nature. He promises to fill us with the Holy Spirit, raise us from the dead, and lead us home to God our Father. The Holy Trinity lives within us. We receive the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. The Lord loves us unconditionally, perfectly, and infinitely. We owe Him an awesome, infinite, unpayable debt of gratitude. In thanksgiving today, let us offer our lives as living sacrifices (see Rm 12:1). Let us throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet in abandonment to His will. In thanksgiving, let us live, love, suffer, and die for Jesus. “Two men look out through prison bars, / one sees mud and the other stars.” Two people grow up in the same family; one remembers the good things, the other remembers nothing but bad.