Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?
SETTING: a symbol of thanksgiving
Two little words, often left unspoken
but important and necessary
even in difficult times like right now.
O God, so rich in compassion and mercy,
and greatly in love with your creation,
to thank you should be easy and spontaneous.
But with the world turned upside down,
populations in lockdown and
businesses in shutdown,
what’s to be thankful for?
Open my eyes to see your hand at work
even while uncertainty fills us with worry.
Reveal a little more the mystery of your love.
Lead me to the gifts at present wrapped in darkness.
Help me to say what I so much want to say:
SCRIPTURE – JOHN 21 – Post Resurrection
The disciples are dispirited following the death of Jesus. They know they have let him down; they are grieving his loss, and they themselves feel very lost. Peter decides to go back to what he knows best – fishing. Some of the others join him.
Covid-19 has stripped us of our certainties – our routine, the things that help give us identity and purpose. Now we’re not so sure. In this critical time when we have had to let go of many personal freedoms, we cannot plan ahead and we feel quite insecure.
The appearance of Jesus on this occasion is not sudden; he is at some distance and can’t be clearly seen for who he is. Even when the disciples think the person is Jesus, they have to get to the shore to really see him. Peter leaves the boat, as he did once before [Mt 14:28], and makes his way to Jesus through the water – surely a symbol of baptism here, our entry into the very life of Jesus. Bringing the huge catch of fish to shore – a symbol of the people Peter (and all disciples) bring to recognise Jesus through their witness and the power of the Word – and they instinctively know Jesus is with them.
Jesus prepares breakfast for the disciples – their togetherness a celebration of thanksgiving (Eucharist) – and then, through Peter, they find voice to affirm their love for Jesus and one another (“Feed my sheep!”).
Make this reading (John 21) your meditation and consider its relationship to thanksgiving, gratefulness.
Other readings you may find helpful as you discern thanksgiving in the context of today’s theme:
Luke 2:8-19 – the angels, the shepherd and Mary
Luke 5:12-16 – A leper – and the self-isolation of Jesus!
Luke 7:11-17 – The widow of Nain
Luke 17:11-19 – Ten Lepers
1 Corinthians 1:4-9; Philippians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
Benedictine Brother, David Steindl-Rast, is renowned for his commitment to inter-faith dialogue and his constant message and if we want to be happy we must be grateful. A Google search of his name will introduce you to several interviews on the subject and to the website: gratefulness.org
You will find a wealth of material for prayer and meditation and reading.
The root of joy is gratefulness… It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratefulness that makes us joyful – Br. David Steindl-Rast
- Gratitude and praise are closely related:
Psalm 34: I will bless the Lord at all times; his paise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exult his name forever.
- Look for other similar passage, including Mary’s Magnificat [Luke 1:46-55]
The word, Eucharist, is derived from the Greek, meaning to give thanks, to be grateful. The central act of Christian worship, The Eucharist, is primarily an act of thanksgiving. In the Eucharist we gather to give thanks (remembering God’s love for us in Jesus and then, nourished by the Word of God and the gift of Jesus, we are sent out to show our gratefulness through loving service – to proclaim the gospel by our way of life.
- Give thanks and praise, for the gifts in your own life.
- Give thanks and praise for those who serve the community in times of crisis and emergency
- Give thanks and praise for teachers and all who enable and encourage the development of gifts in others
- Pray for those whose experience of life makes thanksgiving difficult.
- Pray for the ungrateful, the wasteful, those who abuse of destroy the gifts of others
- Pray for those who are never thanked.
Conclude with this meditative poem, TRINITY. It relates to gratefulness through our human yearning to know the One that is unknowable yet is at all times with us –
How to speak of God – the Being of all beings, the Love of all that is loveable,
the Light shining in the darkness, the Love that is eternal and glorious.
Who dares to set words to paper in dealing with Mystery!
What audacity of a dewdrop to write the Ocean’s biography.
But let us hallow God’s name, be it Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier,
or Water, Flame or Wind, or Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Let not our voices be silent – let not our faith be dormant.
Our doxology, however off tune, might awaken all creation to sing
[Poems Thrown Into The Wind, Robert F Morneau, 2003, p.65]