Luke 11: 27-28 Gratitude That Renews
The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power (Ps 98:2b). What is the Lord's saving power? His humility.
Lord, cleanse me from self-love.
I have some tough words for today. So I ask that you pray with me, "Create in me Lord, a humble heart so that I may see in you the good and bad that shapes my heart to be more like you. I beg you to fill my heart with the power of humility, so that when I am weak, then I am strong."
A few days ago I gave a talk to a group of eighth graders in regards to bullying. I began my discourse with my customary “Shock Therapy!” The first thing I told them is that all (yes, I used an absolute here), ALL middle school students are selfish! I looked around and said once again, “That’s right, SELFISH!” - full of oneself, full of insecurities, full of entitlement, but definitely not full of grace.
I was amazed at their reaction. All of them, with the exception of one (there always has to be one), sat there, in the room, in silence. Some even began to nod their head in agreement. Only one made a slightly sarcastic remark: “thanks a lot.” I told my beautiful students – they really are beautiful because there is so much potential for good – “You all want to be loved, but you’re not willing to do what it takes to be loved. You’re not willing to love.” I continued, “You all want to be adored. You want people to ask you for your autograph, but you’re not willing to adore them. You want people to recognize your accomplishments, but you’re not willing to recognize theirs.”
This is the reason for so many teenagers getting into so much trouble. This is the number one reason why teenage suicides are on the increase across the nation: They want to be loved, but are unwilling to love. They are not willing to do what it takes to be loved: Forgive and Give. Most kids simply don’t know. It’s not part of the public school curriculum. So, in a very perverse way, they prefer to take their life rather than to lay it down.
There are many among us who are no longer teenagers but continue to live the teenager nightmare of bullying. They continue to look for love in all the wrong ways and places. The Lord taught us that tremendous love is paid for at a tremendous price. If you want to be loved by all, then you have to give it all.
At the end of my discourse and discussion with the kids, I received many requests for my autograph! It was a happy ending. It was a good day that day. They were all very grateful to me for being very clear and honest with them. Then I realized something. It is so easy to be grateful towards people who build us up. It’s not so easy to be grateful to those who tear us down in order to build us up stronger and better. But when I can see through my pride, when I allow this to happen, I am definitely on the road to recovery, to renewal.
St. Paul tells us, “This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him; we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. If we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful.” The Lord scourges the sinner; the Lord heals the sinner. The Lord chastises the sinner; the Lord loves the sinner. Let us be grateful for the bouquet of flowers and for the slap in the face. Both are necessary for the salvation of man.
Several hundred people were divided into three different groups. One group was asked to record their daily events in a dairy. Another was asked to record unpleasant experiences. The last group wrote down on a daily basis what they were grateful for. The results: The last group had higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination and energy.
I wonder how many in the last group were grateful for tough or difficult experiences. Maybe not today, but later on those in the third group may wish to modify their list. We cannot always understand everything at that very moment. I will forever be grateful to those in my life that knocked me down and built me up. All roads lead to Rome. All roads lead to Christ. All roads lead to truth and love. It is in the “good times and the bad times” that I discovered the source of joy and happiness: Loving, Forgiving and Giving. My vocation.
Lord, open our hearts to a heart like yours, a humble heart. Help us to accept the good that unites us to you and the bad that brings us back to you. All glory, all honor is yours Almighty Father forever and ever. Amen.