Daily Reflection
January 17th, 2007

John Schlegel, S.J.

Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Memorial of Saint Anthony, abbot
Hebrew 7:1-3, 15-17
Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4
Mark 3:1-6

We are two weeks into the new year and three weeks beyond the celebrations of the birth of the Messiah. How time flies! How memories fade! Can we even recall the highpoints of that festive fortnight? But most importantly did we remember to be grateful for the hospitality, the camaraderie and the gifts? Sometimes gratitude is as fleeting as are our memories.

Today’s scripture speaks eloquently of gratitude and its twin, generosity; the gift and the giver. Melchizedek, the priest and king of Salem, gives Abraham a “blessing.” And Abraham, filled with gratitude, in return bestows on Melchizedek a “tenth of everything he possessed.” These gestures illustrate gifts generously given and gratefully received. So too, in the gospel where Jesus returns to full health the man with the withered arm. In this case, however, the gift and the gratitude are both held suspect by the Pharisees who saw in this “gift-exchange” a cause to put Jesus to death.

In the afterglow of the holiday season, as we return to regular order, as winter settles in around the upper Midwest (and summer in the southern hemisphere!), how much gratitude is in your heart, your words, and in your actions? To develop a grateful disposition is not a bad New Year’s resolution---even a belated resolution. It has been said “the Lord loves a cheerful giver,” true enough; but it is the generosity of spirit that counts not the gift, regardless of size. It is what is in the heart, in the intention, that matters.

On this January day is your disposition, your generosity, that of Abraham and Melchizedek, of Jesus and the man with the withered hand, or that of the Pharisees and Herodians?

In addressing the above question, I am reminded that in the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius there is a contemplation to attain love. In that prayer we are “to ask for interior knowledge of all the great good I have received, in order that, stirred to profound gratitude, I may become able to love and serve the divine majesty in all things.”

Maybe I should revisit and amend my New Year’s resolutions. How about you?

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