Letter for the Second Sunday of Lent (2015)

Fr. Rodolfo D. Vasquez

“To you will I offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.”  (Ps. 116:16).
An indispensable attitude that every Christian must develop in their relationship with the Lord is the virtue of gratitude or thanksgiving.    Last week, we addressed the cardinal virtue of justice which means “giving to God and neighbor what is their due”.    This is a recognition of our duty to pay our debt to a benevolent God.  It is a fundamental understanding that we owe to a gratuitously generous God.   This is a matter of justice, but also an acknowledgment that God has bestowed upon us gifts, favors, and blessings.   
Thankfulness is our response to God grants us favors as tokens of his love for us but more importantly provides what is necessary for our daily living.   Gratitude developed into a habitual virtue begets a spirit of generosity.    This allows us to accept gifts freely given to us so that they then become gifts freely given away to others.    A necessary part of gratitude is to demonstrate it.   Words alone do not suffice in our duty to show thanksgiving.    The author of the Psalm for today’s Mass understands this and offers to the Lord a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.”   The giver here never thinks of giving his left overs or what he can spare, but goes as far as to give what he himself needs, which is why he can rightly call it a sacrifice.    
As we continue our examination of conscience for our Lenten confession, we can ask questions related to our dutiful practice of the virtue of thanksgiving.   Do we recognize and appreciate all that God has given to us in our life; our family, our friends, our jobs, our security, our home, our daily bread, our faith, our health?    Do we treat these gifts with reverence and become good stewards with the gifts God has given?    Have we made “sacrifices of thanksgiving” to the Lord by tithing, parting with our goods in duty toward him, out of justice, because it is right?   Do we give to the poor, the hungry, the needy, the sick?     Do we use our possessions only for good (our TV’s, our computers, cell phones, our vehicles, our homes, our money) or do we use these things for wickedness or sin?   Do we waste or throw away money by excessive gambling, indulging our vices, or in buying things we really don’t need?   
Do we practice gratitude with each other?   Do we use words of gratitude to those who give?   Do we humbly accept gifts or do we instead demand them, expecting them or even become critical of gifts given to us?   Do we share our goods, our time, our resources with others, especially those in most need?    Have we become greedy or materialistic always demanding more or seeking to acquire more?   Do we have a shopping addiction or a spending problem?     Do we hoard our possessions?   Do we at least give our unused clothes or possessions to those who could make good use of them?   Do we value things more than the real necessities of life such as family, life, health, and love?    
During this period of Lent, we ought to practice charity not only as a matter of justice and gratitude, but also because it will help us become more appreciative for what God gives, this helps us grow in faith, and helps us be less wasteful and better stewards taking good care of our blessings.    It helps us to be more responsible to God for what he has entrusted us with.   I encourage you to become more generous not only with God, but with your family and friends, give them little gifts of love.   Charity makes us more pleasing to God and more capable of being grateful.    


Fr. Vasquez

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