Our excerpt from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians we have today for our first reading ends with a beautiful vision of human life: “Everything is indeed for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” Everything is a gift. Creation, beauty, other people, our Church, your faith, and the love you have received are all gifts from God. When we experience gratitude, we respond to the goodness of what we have received. We respond to the goodness of the giver. If human life was only full of the persons and items listed above, living a life of gratitude would be pleasant.
To live a life of Christian gratitude is a real challenge because our gratitude is meant to include the things for which often make us ungrateful. We are often not grateful for failure or being humiliated. People normally do not get warm “fuzzy” feelings at the prospect of doing lowly, unrecognized service. The life experiences for which we are often ungrateful strip away our egos of any pride which hinders our life with God. Pride is a failure to recognize our dependence on God.
Jesus embodies the grateful life to which He calls us to live by following him. In our Gospel reading, he recognizes his Father to be the source of the gifts in his life. The gifts in his life are as much the glory of the Kingdom as it is the humbling service which is the Kingdom. The Father gives Easter and the Cross.
To take up our crosses, in whatever form it might be, is never easy. If it was, it would not be a cross. We are not sure what good will come in taking up a cross. We might approach a situation with trepidation in what good will come from feeling defeated, small, or forgotten. What helps at time is to remember what good has come in your relationship with God from the crosses God has helped you carry. When we recall the Easter experiences of our life of discipleship, we may come to be grateful anew for all the things and events God has woven into our life stories.
What are the crosses you have carried in your life? What new life has God grown in you as you carry your cross?