December 13, 2019 – Friday 3rd Week of Advent / Memorial of St Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
Click here for the readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121319.cfm
Gratefulness makes us see what surrounds us, both the good and the bad. Gratefulness allows us to be embracing and accepting of the things and people around us. It is when we are grateful too that we become joyful persons and will tend to see the goodness and uniqueness of others. And when we become joyful, we also become generous of ourselves towards the people around us, no matter who they are, whether they are our friends or strangers.
However, if our heart is without gratefulness but rather bitter, hateful and vengeful because of our personal failures and failures of others towards us, then, we become close-minded, rejecting, and vicious in the way we relate with one another and even in the way we relate with God.
An ungrateful heart makes us belittle ourselves and belittle others, jealous of the success of our friends, but having low self-esteem. With this in mind, let us see again and explore our Gospel today and discern on how God invites us.
Let us see the attitude of the Chief Priests and Pharisees towards Jesus. These two groups of people were very critical towards Jesus because Jesus challenged their comfort, their belief and practices.
So, what was Jesus really doing?
Jesus was very unconventional because he ate and drank with sinners. He touched and mingled with the sick and the unclean people. Jesus preached a loving and forgiving God the Father. He was from Galilee, from an insignificant town called Nazareth. He was not a well-known intellectual and did not come from a rich and influential family. And all that Jesus did was a threat to the status quo.
Thus, the Chief Priests of the Temple and the Pharisees were already contented with the comfort that they have, with the power and influence that they were enjoying. They were privileged people and the ordinary ones would almost worship them. They also preferred a strict and unforgiving God because it was through that belief that they could advance their self-interest. They used their position in the society to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor.
That is why, they were against Jesus because he was changing their ways. Their hearts were filled with bitterness, hate, anger and the desire to have more; in other words, they were filled with themselves, worshipping their very selves. This is idolatry.
These were the reasons why they could not accept Jesus or even recognize the presence of God in Jesus. As they rejected John the Baptist by accusing him of being possessed by a demon for being different and radical, and so they too rejected and despised Jesus, accusing him for being a glutton and drunkard because Jesus ate and drank with sinners and the poor.
This is the response of an ungrateful heart. The Chief Priests and Pharisees did not recognize at all the works of God. Thus, by being ungrateful they also reject what comes from God.
This will also happen to us when we remain ungrateful and when we refuse to recognize that everything is from God. When we become ungrateful persons, we also become self-entitled. We become demanding in our relationships. We become critical of those people around us and we tend to only see what is wrong in the other person. We will become stingy of our time and energy and ungenerous of our resources and presence to those who are asking for our help. And most of all, we become indifferent to people around us and indifferent to God.
Thus, God calls each of us today to be more aware of the gifts, blessings and graces that we have received each day. It would be good then to bring back to our memories the many gifts that we have received as we prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus.
Hopefully, by starting from there, then our consciousness will be heightened and sharpened in recognizing the presence of God present in our life and in the lives of others. By being grateful, we may become welcoming of God’s invitation. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR