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WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Gratitude for Government?

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT
November 14th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Although we find ourselves in a very unpleasant situation, gratitude helps us accept with a serene heart the way things are, and it also helps us find the good amidst an evil situation.  It balances us, corrects, enlightens, and guides us to see that God is still God, and that he hasn't abandoned us despite the wickedness we perceive.  Gratitude heals us of the leprosy of a decaying and decrepit attitude.  It gives us newness of skin, a fresh way of thinking and authentic Christian JOY.

HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - A woman showed up at the rectory with her baby boy who had stopped breathing.  She said she was going to get medical help, but wanted us to baptize him first.  We did.  On the way to the hospital the boy mysteriously began breathing again.  The doctor said there was nothing wrong with him.  She came back to the parish.

I saw something on her face that I have rarely ever seen - true and pure gratitude.  At that moment, looking upon the face of this woman, for one split second, the very thin veil that lies between the world of grace and this world was lifted and there I saw before my eyes the One who was visiting us in disguise - Jesus Christ.  It was he who came to us that day and he who is the grateful One.

Gratitude.  Got some?

One out of ten of the lepers in the Gospel for today showed it, and he was a Samaritan.  Just as he was given the further gift of another encounter with Jesus Christ, who said to him, "Stand up and go, your faith has saved you," so those with gratitude are given not only the blessing of cementing the graces deeper in their hearts that they have been given, but also open themselves to further graces and blessings.

Gratitude is one of the most healthy and healing things there is.  It is one of the most psychologically and emotionally sound attitudes toward life.  Gratitude is real.  It is also real hard some times.  Here is one for you.  Are you grateful to God for your government?  That is what the first reading indicates.  "Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise."

WHAT?  Be obedient to Obama?  Are you nuts?

This is what shows whether your faith is centered truly on Christ or if it is still catered to your own preferences and will.

Is God, God?  Is he in charge of the government?  Are Jesus' words about the government of the day true (to Pilate), "You would have no power were it not given to you from above"?  Is Jesus the Lord of history and the Holy Spirit its protagonist?

If God is still in charge of the whole scheme of things, he has allowed this present government to be elected and we must first give thanks for the gift of ordered government and then cooperate with it as much as possible so that we can bring all things to be pleasing to God. 

I personally can't stand the fact that Obama was re-elected, however, I pray sincerely for him at every mass.  He has a big job to do and has been given one of the most powerful and influential roles in the contemporary world.  Woe to me if I don't pray for him.  I pray.

I don't angrily bark at God and ask him why things are the way they are or become another bitter voice amongst the whiners and howlers - too many of those around.  I sincerely from the heart with faith in God's mercy and providence ask God to bless the government that all things that it does may come into accordance with the holy Will of God.

Obedience is not easy and although we are required by moral conscience to obey all legitimate authority inasmuch as it aids to bring about the common good, the other side of obedience is equally challenging.

We are bound in conscience to disobey authority or laws which are directly opposed to the natural law.

 "A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1902, St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II 93)

St Thomas goes on to say that if a human law is opposed to the natural law, we are bound in conscience to do everything in our power to oppose it.  In this situation, the way a person honors their government is disobeying its morally illegitimate laws and doing everything possible to overturn them.  The most clear example of this is the priority we must have to do everything in our power to criminalize abortion again by making it illegal, and oppose with every ounce of our strength the HHS mandate.

Although we find ourselves in a very unpleasant situation, gratitude helps us accept with a serene heart the way things are, and it also helps us find the good amidst an evil situation.  It balances us, corrects, enlightens, and guides us to see that God is still God, and that he hasn't abandoned us despite the wickedness we perceive.

Gratitude heals us of the leprosy of a decaying and decrepit attitude.  It gives us newness of skin, a fresh way of thinking and authentic Christian JOY - joy which is never based on how much we like the way things are going but on the fact that God will continue to be God and pour out his goodness despite difficulties we must endure.  Gratitude gives us the renewed energy to oppose things which are evil and in need of reform.

The source, summit, and center of all Christian gratitude is the Most Holy Eucharist.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1328), "Eucharist.is an act of thanksgiving to God." 

Eucharistein is greek for thanksgiving.  Jesus' heart is primarily one of thanksgiving.  Since the eternal personality of God the Son is one of gratitude, of proceeding from the Father and having received his very Being from the Father, we can be sure that the fundamental disposition of His whole life was thanksgiving.  This is true even of the Cross.  Many like to think of the Redeemer's suffering and expiation for the sin of man on the Cross, however, since Jesus is God almighty, everything He did was primarily a divine act carried out through a human nature, and therefore we can be sure that His fundamental disposition, even on the Cross, is gratitude.

May the holy Mother of God, whose grateful and Immaculate Heart was pierced with the Heart of Christ at Calvary, help us to understand the true depths of Christian gratitude, that we may begin to live the Gospel with mature faith.

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Father Samuel Medley, SOLT, is a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and is currently based in Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom.  He is a speaks to groups around the world on Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.  Visit his homily blog http://medleyminute.blogspot.com or his blog on sexual ethics http://loveandresponsibility.org 

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