EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – 2018
GRATITUDE IS FULFILLING AND REWARDING.
If the question is asked: what is that virtue which seems to elude humanity always? I can guess that gratitude may be at the fore front of this contest. Suffice it, then, to suggest that often we are tempted to forget to appreciate what we have or the good deed done to us. And some other times, we consciously or unconsciously presume that gratitude is not necessary. In his famous presidential inaugural speech on January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, beckoned on all Americans in these words, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I know that many historians and political pundits or scientists have given a lot of interpretations to this presidential mantra. But, permit me to offer my ten cents. In a summary, I believe that what JFK, asked Americans is simply to be grateful to the country that God has given them. A nation that stands like a shining light on top of the Mountain, a beacon of hope and freedom to all nations of the world that wished to be governed in freedom. A country that offers both her citizens and non-citizens the opportunities to achieve their widest conceivable dreams. Gratefulness is the key here, brethren.
In the first reading of this Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Holy Mother Church presents us with the need to be grateful, or at least begin to cultivate the virtue of gratitude in our lives, as well as, teach it to our children and loved ones. In this first reading taken from the book of Exodus, the Israelites were so ungrateful that they challenged God, by disparaging Moses and Aaron. A little background to this story reminds us how God, out of his benevolent heart, sent Moses to the land of Egypt, where the Israelites were suffering in servitude – slavery, to redeem them from the heavy handedness and shackles of Pharaoh. The success of this mission brought the people of Israel into the wilderness as they made their way to the promised land. During this journey, the Israelites encountered a minor human discomfort, and what did they do in respond to this discomfort? The reading tells us that, “The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘Would that we had died at the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!’” My brothers and sisters, we cannot only blame the Israelites for their ingratitude to God, but ourselves too, who daily refuse to thank God for all the blessings he has given us: look at different human discoveries in science, electronics, outer space and a few others. God’s freewill to mankind is to choose good or bad; and once chosen, we become responsible for our decisions and actions. So, it is one’s decision to accept God as the ultimate source of the human minds achievements or not. But, since it is an empirical fact that today we are here, but tomorrow we are gone, humility demands that we accept that it is not by our power and means that we exit and achieve all this. It can be said, therefore, to be ungrateful is to be sinful! We are invit-ed today not to take God’s many blessings and gifts for granted, but always work hard to become men and women with gratitude in our lives, Amen.
Father Uche Obikwelu