My children are generally good children. I love them and enjoy spending time with them. They can be kind, loving, funny and helpful around the house. Wouldn’t trade them for anything.
But they are kids, which means that sometimes they don’t see the whole picture. Despite being well cared for, loved, clothed, sheltered and fed, there are times when they complain about relatively unimportant matters. “Be thankful for what you have,” is a sentence that is uttered in the Marascia household from time to time.
Of course, as a typical hypocritical parent, a brief scan of my memory over the past week found that I complained about the speed limit being reduced 10 mph on a road I use to get to work, the cold temperatures even though I live in the Northeast and shouldn’t expect any different, and a glitch in an iPhone app that briefly delayed how quickly I got the NBA scores from the night before.
I guess ungratefulness isn’t limited to children.
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it’s always a good time to give thanks and be appreciative for what God has given us. We should keep that spirit each Sunday at Mass as well, especially during Communion. That’s because “Eucharist” is actually the Greek word for “thanksgiving.” Every time we go to Mass, at the center of our worship is the ultimate Thanksgiving.
I think a big part of being thankful is not getting bogged down by complaining too much. Life isn’t perfect, and there will always be disappointments, frustrations and setbacks, but focusing on what we’ve been blessed with is a way to honor God.
A few years ago, Pope Francis preached on the Gospel story from St. Luke about the two disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus after the death of Jesus:
“And they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints, and kept going on and on and on with the complaining. I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints. Complaining seems safer. It’s something certain.”
Complaining and griping, about others and about things in one’s own life, is harmful, Pope Francis continued, “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.”
Like all Catholic teachings, this is easier said than done. But perhaps we can capture the spirit of this wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving and let it be a springboard to a more grateful living.
May we give thanks to God for the gift of life, may we give thanks to our Lord Jesus for the gift of the Eucharist, and may we give thanks to the Holy Spirit for filling our hearts with God’s love.
- Dana Marascia