These days it can seem as though the forces of evil are winning. We see the chaos around the world and how loud and strong the language of hatred is. We see it in the rise of crimes against worshiping communities. In California, where our Jewish brothers and sisters were murdered; in Sri Lanka, where Christian worshipers were slaughtered, and in Christ Church, where so many of our Muslim brothers and sisters were murdered; in the occupation of the Palestinian lands; and at the highest levels of government in our country, we see the result of the normalized and pervading language of hate. This is more than just demoralizing; it is heartbreaking.
How do we begin to heal our broken hearts? As I write this, I am reminded of the first use of the boomerang in Poland, about 20,000 years ago. The principle is simple: what goes out comes back. This principle is at the root of our Christian concept of gratitude.
The people of the Old Testament did not have a word for thank you. But, that did not mean that they lacked gratitude. Jesus’ expression of gratitude was a short blessing. Jesus’ life was filled with prayers of gratitude that, for Christian disciples, was translated into the “Eucharist” (which literally means thanksgiving). Thus, prayer was a spontaneous flood of acknowledgements that in turn opens you up to more prayers, and to the enjoyment of life’s endless river of blessings.
Gratitude is simple: I look at your hand and, if the hand is open, I can receive it but I have to let go in order to receive more. So we open our hands and extend them in solidarity with all those who feel more vulnerable. We pray that our lives may be dedicated to the uplifting of the dignity of all God’s children.
Blessed be God, who has given hearts that break and heal as we become more human.
Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz