Behold! A New Year has begun! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing” (Eph 1:3), including the blessing of the New Year 2024—a new year of “glorious grace,” so to say!
As Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, American author and host of the Revive Our Hearts Radio program, insists, “We are called to be thankful people, to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits that we have received from God and others. We are all debtors, and we repay those debts with grateful hearts and words of thanksgiving. It is not enough to feel gratitude in our hearts. That gratitude must be communicated to those to whom we are indebted.”
Sacred Scripture says, “In everything, give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:18). American author Pastor Max Lucado offers us a pointer in this regard: “The grateful heart is like a magnet sweeping over one’s day, collecting reasons for gratitude. A Zillions of diamonds sparkle against the velvet of your sky every night…. Thank you, God!”
Does it occur to us that the act of being grateful and appreciative of all that we have amounts to praising God for the “glorious grace” He so freely makes available to us in and through Jesus? Father Harry Vaz, Professor of Scripture at the Bombay Archdiocesan Seminary, put the concept of gratitude and appreciation into perspective very succinctly in his homily at Mass early one morning at Our Lady of Lourdes’ Church, Orlem, thus: “We need to be thankful for everything we have rather than crave for what others have that we don’t. We need to be thankful for our families, our jobs, and everything else rather than blame others for what we lack. It is the spiritual blessings with which God has blessed each of us within Jesus that make it possible for us to have all that we do have.”
Thankful people see each day as a gift, thus focusing less on what they lack and, instead, making the most of what they do have. And so it is that as the New Year 2024 unfolds, we would do well to focus on a whole lot of apparently minor matters that are part of our everyday lives and start being grateful for the same, precisely so that no matter what happens in the 12 months ahead, our overall attitude remains one of gratitude no less. And this, of course, both to God’s glory and to our benefit!
Happiness rooted in gratitude
Marc & Angel Chernoff, a New York Times bestselling author, opines, “If you’re always grateful for the little things; it’s hard to avoid momentary happiness. It’s a lack of gratitude that often keeps us feeling down.” Hence, there is an urgent need for re-thinking our perspective on the fulfillment of our needs vis-à-vis God, grace and gratitude-
- Do we ever realize that a miracle of muscles enables our eyes to read the printed word and view a picture or a video clip and our brain to process the same to enable us to cherish the same? Thank you, God!
- The human heart beats about three billion times in one’s lifetime. As for our brain, a veritable
- Our lungs act as an electric power generator, inhaling and exhaling approximately 11,000 liters of air daily! Thank you, God!
- For the walls of protection around us with a roof over our heads, for the love of our parents. Thank you, God, for everything that is around us—the love and support of our siblings, the joy of friendship.
- For the job that brings in the money, the hands that provide three meals daily on our tables, and zealously help us keep tabs on our studies and careers—thank you, God!
- For the priests in our parish who strive to give us Jesus in the way they best can, enthusing and encouraging us to give our best towards building community, thank you, God!
- For our catechists who take their roles as co-pastors seriously enough to teach the faith. Thank you, God, for enabling us to live our faith responsibly and accurately.
His grace in action
To quote Max Lucado once again: “Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To truly reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to truly understand His heart, which is to uncover not only His good gifts but also the goodness of the giver. To discover His heart is to discover not just good gifts but the good giver.”
Hence, the bottom line is that the kind of year we give ourselves lies largely in our power. If the type of year we have largely depends on our actions and choices, then it is within our power to shape it. The chief lesson learned from life’s ups and downs and its gains and losses in the preceding years is 'gratitude'. It won’t be difficult to realize that the secret to being grateful for God’s glorious grace is no secret; we simply choose to be grateful! We choose to be grateful over and over again, knowing that each day, week, and month throughout the year is a fresh start in itself.
In this context, we might consider our reaction to an act of injustice we willy-nilly face at some point in time or another in life, viz., unfair criticism. When someone doesn’t like us or judges us unfairly, we could well delight in being grateful that they cared enough to even pay us some attention—attention being time, and time is a gift! Need one to say more!?!
It is said that maintaining a ‘gratitude journal’ has innumerable benefits. Writing down reasons for gratitude or Causes for gratitude on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis has innumerable benefits. Robert Emmons, the world's leading scientific expert on gratitude, reveals how maintaining an attitude of gratitude and a gratitude journal is important for us: Physically, it strengthens our immune system; psychologically, it helps maintain higher levels of positive emotions; and socially, it ensures that You feel less lonely and isolated. What better way, then, to start the New Year than to load our journal with constant praise for His glorious grace?
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.