Tuesday, 10 November 2009


In a jam, in a mess, in a sticky situation! None of these to be recommended! But I'll tell you, it was the lady who made raspberry jam who brought so much sweetness into my life, and more than that -deep friendship. You see, I love homemade raspberry jam, and was fortunate in having a friend who delighted in making it. Strangely, she didn't like eating it. But how happy she was to grow the raspberries from which she made the jam -and then to give it to someone who would enjoy it.

After tasting her jam I was full of praise and gratitude. As a result she gave me a regular supply.
But much more important, her kind gift and my grateful response drew us closer as friends. What a difference between finding a friend in a jam and finding a friend in jam! That probably wouldn't have happened if she hadn't given me the jam, and I hadn't shown my appreciation of it.

That gift of jam and my response taught me something very important about gratitude and ingratitude. People deserve to be thanked for what they've done or for what they've given. Of course, wanting to be thanked should never be the motive for their generosity...but rather love, simply love. But no one likes being taken for granted. We all like our efforts to be appreciated. There used to be a notice in our kitchen, which read, "No one notices what I do till I stop doing it." How true that is, perhaps especially in the home! Ask yourself how often you have thanked the person who has cooked your meals, tidied the house or earned the wages. And if you've done all that for others, how often have you been thanked? I bet you would welcome some sign of appreciation for your efforts.

Ingratitude is churlish. It creates resentment and tends to drive us apart. On the other hand, when we say, "Thank you" and show our appreciation the one who gives and the one who receives instinctively warm to each other and draw closer to each other.

These reflections made me realise how much we take God for granted. We owe him our very existence, as well as the fertility of our planet and the mineral resources it contains. He's given us the ability to develop technical and artistic skills, and so much more. In addition to these natural gifts God has given us his Spirit through whom we share God's own divine life and happiness. The Son of God has become one of us and has given his very life to save us from the power of evil and to grant us the fullness of life. Love for us is his only motive, and that is his greatest gift.

How easily do we take for granted all that God has done for us, all that he has given us! We are eager enough to ask him for many things, but how often do we bother to thank him? Our ingratitude prevents our responding to God's generosity with love. That distances us from him. But if we do take the trouble to thank him our gratitude will draw us closer to each other in love. And if we tell him we appreciate his gifts he will be ever more generous in loving us.

It's so easy to say, "Thank you." And yet those words mean so much. The gift of the pot of jam has taught me the importance of gratitude in helping us to draw closer to God and each other.

A final thought. Apart from saying "Thank you" the best way to show our appreciation of a gift is to use it, not throw it away or forget it. If it's a pot of jam, eat and enjoy it. If it's a garment let the giver have the satisfaction of seeing you wear it. And let's use God's gifts to express our love for him and each other.
Isidore O.P.

Next week Fr Peter will muse upon Meeting God in Reflected Glory

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