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Always be Grateful to the Lord - Family Reflection Video

Always be Grateful to the Lord - Family Reflection Video

Learn more about our faith  |  Seasonal Reflections

At the end of a 30-minute sermon on gratitude, a visiting preacher said, "And remember, no matter how small the gift, always be grateful to the Lord."

Later, when it was time for the collection, an usher used the preacher's hat to take up the offering. When the hat returned to the preacher, he shook it carefully but didn't hear any sound. Then he turned it upside down. But nothing came out. It was empty!

Seeing this, every eye in the congregation watched to see if the preacher would practice what he had just preached. As he held his empty hat, the pastor said, "I thank thee, Lord of heaven and earth, that, at least, I got my hat back!"

The theme of today’s gospel reading is gratitude. This is expressed in the Blessed Mother's hymn of praise, "The Magnificat.” "My soul proclaims the Lord's greatness; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."

When you are overjoyed, do you sometimes feel like singing or humming a happy tune? This must have been how Mary felt when she sang her song to God, which has become one of the great hymns of the church – the "Magnificat." The scene is the "Visitation," the younger Mary visiting her elder cousin Elizabeth. There is joy among the two expectant mothers and even John the Baptist, the child within Elizabeth. They all feel the joy-causing presence of God with them. Why? It is because of Jesus! Emmanuel – God with us! God has visited them. This is why we are joyful and grateful during the Christmas season.

Christmas is wonderful news announced to the poor and the lowly first. In her song, Mother Mary mentions another reason for her gratitude: God noticed the lowly and did great things for them. It must have been incomprehensible to Mary that God would choose a humble, ordinary girl like her. And so, she exalts God, who favors not only herself but all the poor and lowly the world overlooks.

No one is unimportant and useless in God's world; no one is so low that Jesus wouldn't come for him or her. God's design is inversely proportional to the usual social standards. The small ones are beautiful, those in the low places are high, the last are the first, and the hungry will be filled. The Magnificat is like Mary's version of the Beatitudes. It is good news for those disadvantaged in the social race, but a warning for those who think of themselves as higher than heaven.

Joy comes to those who seek God's presence, and gratitude comes to those who trust God enough to submit to His will, to those who are simple and humble in their desires, to those who are "poor" and serve the poor and needy before themselves. The secret to attaining joy and gratitude is revealed here in Mary’s song of praise.

What tune do our hearts sing this Christmas season?

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About Father Boby John, C.S.C.

Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.