A Lens of Gratitude

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time | October 13, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons


We’ve all had those days.

You know, the ones in which everything seems to go wrong.

    The ones in which you are desperately trying to pass it off as if everything is fine.  Under        control.

    But inside, you just want to either curl up in a ball and cry or punch something.  

Yeah, Thursday was one of those days.

It started early.  7:15 to be exact.

When I walked into a gym that was supposed to be cleared out from the function the night before and nothing had been touched.

Hundreds of chairs and tables just sitting in the middle of the gym where a mass is supposed to take place in 2 hours.

And one guy, gently removing a single piece of furniture at a time, brushing aside my aggressive offers to help with a nonchalant, “I’ve got plenty of time. I’ll be out of your hair by 9.”

By 9:30, I’m wound tighter than a steel drum. All during mass, my brain is racing, stressed over the inevitable balls I’m sure I’ve dropped in preparing for the day and angry over how everything has unfolded.

Mass ends and I’m hit with back to back student meetings that were not in my preparation of the day.

And all through the meetings, I’m struggling to stay present and not worry about the insane to-do list that gets longer by the moment.

Finally, I sit down at the computer, ready to be productivity embodied.

And the Internet dies. Not just the Wifi. The entire network.

        I can’t print

        I can’t access files

        I can’t send e-mails.

So now the prayer service I’m supposed to have ready by 3 PM is not happening.

At this point, I’m just putting on a brave face. “C’mon,” I say to the 10 freshmen I’m bringing to Nativity. “We’ve got to head over a little early so I can print.”

I jump into the new 15-passenger van. And realize someone put on the parking brake.

        Because of course they did.

And it was at that point that I surrendered. You win, life. You win.

I pull into Nativity.  Late. Unprepared. And a mess.

And an e-mail pops up.

    What are you grateful for?

    The same prompt my office receives each afternoon.

And I just started laughing. Gratitude? On today of all days?

But then I began to think back on that day.

And was totally caught off guard. For a bunch of things began coming back to me.

David giving this amazing reflection in front of the whole school and his mom and grandmom proudly teary-eyed in the first row.

The vulnerability of the two students I met with. And how proud I am of how far they have come.

How so many students stepped up to help get the mass ready. Noticing my stress, they made sure I wasn’t alone.

        How these 10 freshmen were so excited to tutor my Nativity guys.

How Dave stayed with me to figure out the van, even though I wasn’t exactly pleasant to be around.

So many blessings, poured forth in abundance.

If only I had stopped and seen them.

My friends, I am convinced that this Gospel is not complicated. And yet, it is quite difficult.

The call to be grateful. In each moment. Whether through sunshine or storm.

Those other 9 were not bad people. They were simply doing what they were supposed to. Surviving in the rat race that is often life.

But the one. He chose to see the world through a different lens. A lens of gratitude. And in so doing, he was the first to see that he had been healed.

So I ask you, how are you seeing the world in this moment?

Do you see the abundant blessings that are all around you?

The family member sitting beside you? The friend whose texts or snapchats are waiting on your phone?

The comfortable bed and warm shower that are waiting at home? The car that awaits to take you swiftly home. The stars that sparkle overhead as you walk your dog.

The forgiveness that others have extended you? The mountains you’ve climbed? The wounds that have healed? The demons you’ve battled?

Do you see yourself as the gift that you are? Are you grateful for who you are and where you are going?

If the only prayer you ever said was thank you, it would be enough.

Thank you, dear Lord. Thank you. Amen.

May God be Praised.

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