Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Most thankful for...
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the November 15, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
While the attention of our nation is focused on the results of the recent presidential election and various ballot measures, the holiday season has begun to sneak around the corner. Actually, I think I heard its first footsteps last July when a television commercial championed the purchase of a surprise Christmas trip to the Bahamas for your heart-throb!
This time of year throughout our richly blessed land we often hear comment about how much we have been given. And indeed we have – and not just the privilege of exercising our rights at the ballot box.
It is always heart-warming to sit at a holiday dinner table with a young family, listening to the children utter their sincere prayers of thanksgiving. Many a home magnifies this little tradition at the table on Thanksgiving Day as each family member is given opportunity to offer a personal prayer of thanks for what has most blessed him or her. While the turkey waits the list ranges from “mommy and daddy” to health, Rollerblades, running shoes and iPads.
While making a little pre-thanksgiving list myself this year, I became aware that mention of “Jesus” far more often than not is missing from people’s list. Including my own!? Is it because we are ungrateful – or just forgetful?
We are grateful for things not just because they are received as a gift but because they make a difference in our lives. Yes, we can be forced by etiquette to make the polite expression of gratitude, especially when someone gives us something we neither need nor even want. But the tone of voice clearly reflects a different enthusiasm when the gift is meaningful or makes a genuine difference to us. No wonder “mommy and daddy,” health, Rollerblades, running shoes and iPads make the list with tones of glee.
But then there’s Jesus….
Like so many of the big things in life – freedom, democracy, relationships, home and hearth – we forget how significant the person of Jesus is. The gift goes unappreciated not because we don’t need or want it. We do! But because we are so often unconscious of what a tremendous gift God has given us in Him.
The Thanksgiving celebration which quickly approaches gives us another opportunity to take stock of all the good things that bless our lives. It would not be such a bad idea this Year of Faith to stop and reflect on the gift of Jesus. If it would be helpful, we could ask: What would my life and the life of the society around me be like if it were not for the presence of Jesus Christ in human history, or, more importantly, in my own life and heart through the Sacraments of Christian Initiation or personal grace?
We might be tempted to think that everything would be the same, but such an answer would be falsely based. Our personal lives and the substance of the culture which surrounds us would be radically different. Particularly different would be our sense of personal value, direction in life and attitude toward our eventual destiny once death has had its say. Yes, without realizing it, what God has done for us in Jesus Christ is of extreme importance.
Without this Man and his influence in our culture, what would be the basis of our sense of morality? In what dark or silly places would we be searching for an answer to that yearning for ultimate happiness that tugs at every human heart? What would we have to say to family and friends who are pained by the death of loved ones? To what or to whom would we turn for personal peace and fulfillment? Rollerblades, running shoes and iPads offer some brief recourse. Mommy and Daddy even have a wholesome role to play, but the fundamental question of salvation remains unanswered.
It is true that we can hide from the Jesus question and avoid the necessary question of what significance he has for us. We all do that to some extent because the answer is so totally demanding. How we respond to Jesus gives fundamental direction to our lives and places its moral demand in our hearts. It is much easier at times to pretend that someone else has answered the question for us – or that we have plenty of time to deal with it.
Year after year we are given opportunity to enter the holiday season with the Great Thanksgiving Meal with family and friends. Even in the simple prayers voiced around many a table on the fourth Thursday of November is the faint echo of the One whose birth we prepare to celebrate come Christmas. Will Jesus be at the top of our Thank-You list this year?
(Father Savelesky is pastor of the parishes in Oakesdale, Rosalia, St. John, and Tekoa, and serves as the diocese’s Moderator of the Curia and Director of Deacon Formation.)
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