Catechesis on prayer – 20. The prayer of thanksgiving

It could be said that the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who do not give thanks and those who do; those who take everything as if it is owed them, and those who welcome everything as a gift, as grace. The Catechism says: “every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving” (n. 2638).

If we view life knowing that we were thought of before we learned how to think; we were loved before we learned how to love; we were desired before our hearts conceived a desire – then “thank you” becomes the driving force of our day.  As Pope Francis says:

To live is above all to have received life. All of us are born because someone wanted us to have life. And this is only the first of a long series of debts that we incur by living. Debts of gratitude.

Besides blessing God for the gift of life, we owe debts of gratitude for so many gratuitous gifts given by parents, educators, catechists, friends. We should always be grateful and say “thank you” continually to every person who goes above and beyond what is required of them, to every person who loves.  This is the crux: when you thank someone, you express the certainty that you are loved.

Such natural thanksgiving only grows in the encounter with Jesus. We are no longer wandering aimlessly, no: we have a home, we dwell in Christ. And inspired by the outpouring of God’s redemptive grace, now we contemplate the world as redeemed, infinitely more beautiful. If we are in Christ, there is no sin or threat that can prevent us from continuing our journey with joy.  The devil, after deluding us with temptation, always leaves us sad and alone.  Cultivate and remain always in the joy of the encounter with Jesus.

If we are bearers of gratitude, the world becomes better. With gratitude, with this attitude of thanksgiving, we transmit a bit of hope – the world needs hope.  The path to happiness is described by St. Paul: “Pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess 5:17-18)

You are invited to meditate on Luke 10:11-19, the Healing of the Ten Lepers. Only one in the group returned to thank Jesus and to praise God for the grace received. This one experienced an additional joy: in addition to being healed, he encounters Jesus. He is not only freed from evil, but he now possesses the certainty of being loved.

As Christians, our prayer of thanksgiving is inspired by gratitude for the love of God – the outpouring of God’s redemptive grace upon our world – revealed in the coming of Jesus, the Messiah welcomed by hearts that trusted and prayed for the fulfilment of God’s promises.  May fervent prayer of thanksgiving enlarge our hearts and enable us to bring the hope and joy of the Gospel to all around us.

Read Catechesis on prayer: 20. The prayer of thanksgiving