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Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD October 9, 2022 / 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Image Source: Fr Francis Clooney SJ

Hidelyn Diaz made history for the Philippines by winning the first gold medal in the last Tokyo Olympics in the weight lifting competition. In order to succeed, she went through rigorous training and sacrifices. For instance, almost every day from 9 to 12 noon, Hidelyn trained again from 2 to 5 in the afternoon. But what’s most inspiring is that all throughout her preparations and competitions, she never forgot to pray.

* * *

When she received the gold medal, she raised it with her left hand for the world to see and also raised with her right hand the Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Mother. She wanted to show that her success was not only the fruit of her talent and rigorous sacrifices but also thanked the Blessed Virgin Mary for her divine assistance.

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Here’s a woman who knew how to be grateful. She exemplifies the grateful Naaman in the first reading of this 28th Sunday Mass who was cured of leprosy (2 Kgs 5, 14), and the Samaritan in the gospel who was the only one among the 10 lepers who returned to thank the Lord for their healing.

Human as Jesus was, too, he was disheartened, saying, ”Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Luke 17.18).

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Somebody said, “Gratitude is memory of the heart.” Ingrates have no memories, no remembrances. In local parlance, walang utang na loob.

Ungrateful people are proud. What they accept as help from people they consider as something due to them

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Are we grateful people? Just think of our prayers to God. Aren’t they almost all prayers of petition, “gimme, gimme Lord”?

I have nothing against prayers of petition because I also pray a lot of these. But do we remember to thank God for what we have received like the gift of life, our health, an extraordinary talent, business expertise? Or, the free gifts of God like the air, sunlight, water, plants which we take for granted as absolutely ours.

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Are we grateful also for failures, adversities and bad experiences which help us to learn from?

I remember a classmate who flunked in Grade 3. It was very shameful, being teased and laughed at. It was all his fault because he preferred to play with barkada, doing what’s more enjoyable than sitting on his butt toiling on his homework.

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The embarrassing experience was a wake-up call. He promised to himself that it would never happen again. Slowly and painstakingly, he progressed. When he reached Grade Six, he got promoted to the bright section.

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When he graduated from high school, he made it to the top ten. And when he completed his Bachelor of Arts and Master’s in Philosophy, he graduated with the distinction of magna cum laude.

What made him successful? It was the painful experience of being a flunker that motivated him to excel and focus on his priority goal. For that, he was extremely grateful.

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One last thing to remember. When a person is grateful, the benefactor feels inspired to do more for the recipient. And if this is the natural response of human beings, how much more with God as shown in Jesus’ feeling towards the grateful Samaritan.

So, always be grateful to God and your benefactors.

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