Gratitude is the attitude we need most during these pandemic times.
Haven’t we all found ourselves mired in feelings of depression, or unhappiness or frustration or despair, during these past 20 months of isolation and social distancing?
Jesus is calling us to change our perspective and see our lives and our situations the way he sees them.
Gratitude is the attitude we need most.
Advent is a good time to put into practice this change to our perspective.
This weekend, Jesus is reminding his disciples that a change in attitude will help them to be ready for his coming at the end of time.
In our scripture this weekend from Luke's Gospel (called the little Apocalypse) Jesus is speaking about the great and fearful day of the coming of the Son of Man at the end of time. This is the third week we’ve read from the Bible’s apocalyptic literature where we hear of the culmination of history and the revelation of the reign of God. This is all designed to prepare us for Jesus' first coming at Christmas.
Here Jesus is reminding his disciples that the coming of the Son of Man at the end of time will be a cause for joy, courage, and hope. Not fear for believers.
Jesus comes into our human existence three times: at his birth, now in the ministry we do for him, and at the end of time. Our hearts must be attuned to this reality.
This is the change our perspective we all need. This is a change of perspective we can work on this Advent. This is a change of perspective that can transform our lives.
I’m reminded of a popular scene from a favorite Thanksgiving movie for many: Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I’m sure most have seen it.
It’s a story about an uptight and intolerant advertising executive (Neal Page) who gets paired with a goodhearted, but annoying salesman of shower curtain rings (Del Griffith) after their airplane from New York to Chicago gets diverted to Wichita in a snowstorm.
They share together a three-day odyssey of misadventures as they attempt to get Neal home to his family for Thanksgiving.
The memorable scene comes at the end of the movie when Neal is finally on the Chicago light rail (known as the “L”) heading home.
As he’s reflecting on his experiences with Del he starts to realize something about his annoying new friend (it dons on him in a flash of memories): Del is homeless.
In that moment, Neal’s perspective changes as he returns to the light rail station where he left Del and gets the full story about Del’s reason for being a traveling salesman: He has no home to go home to after the death of his wife years earlier.
Neal invites Del to join his family for Thanksgiving dinner at his home and thanks Del for helping him to see the world differently than he did before.
So many people fail to show gratitude for their many blessings and understand there are many in this world with fewer blessings than we have.
We who live in the United States are blessed abundantly compared to the rest of the world. We should rejoice in these many blessings. Instead, of wanting more or feeling we don’t have enough.
It is especially good to be reminded of this during the current pandemic, and during Advent.
How do we grow in gratitude during this Advent to change our perspective?
I’m thankful for author Emily Jaminet of Catholic Digest for offering these great ways to grow in gratitude:
“Prayer impacts our perspective!
If you are struggling with
being grateful, take this matter to your prayer time! Ask the Lord for more
graces to accept each moment of your life, as it is, and to overcome whatever
is holding you back from being grateful.
Surround yourself with people who are grateful for life.
Gratitude is an important virtue and flows from humility. ‘If souls are humble, they will be moved to give thanks,’ St. Teresa of Ávila said.
Materialism fuels our ingratitude.
Our culture and greed often lead us into a vicious circle of materialism: The more we get, the more we want. Materialism leads to the ‘give me’ mindset in which ‘stuff’ fills the void of our hearts. It is important to focus on the non-material world where we share our thanks with words of affirmation, kind deeds, and prayers of thanksgiving.
A major obstacle to being grateful or growing in this virtue is refusing to forgive.
When we refuse to forgive it leads us to grow in hard-heartedness. Consider forgiving those who have hurt you or robbed you of your joy. Seek to mend that relationship. When we seek out to strengthen our relationships with others, we grow closer to Christ. In the meantime, we grow in gratitude.
Worry and anxiety can also lead us away from being grateful.
There is a direct link between screen time and anxiety” (So, lose the smart phones and enjoy the now.)
Advent is a time of year when we are called to focus on shedding the things we don’t need in order to grow closer to Christ in all his comings.
Gratitude can help us to always be ready for Jesus, to always stay focused on what is important in our lives, and to always grow closer to God who is the wellspring of all our blessings in this life.
By showing gratitude always in all things, we become beacons of hope in these uncertain times. And draw others to be closer to Jesus.
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