‘Gratitude Is the Beginning of Faith’
A great episode in the life of Saint Isaac Jogues, one of the North American Martyrs, who labored, and was martyred, in the northern part of our state…
Seems as if the early missionaries were not having much success in their efforts of evangelization among the Native Americans. Understandably, the Indians were suspicious of them of them and seemingly uninterested in the faith.
Nevertheless, those early Jesuits kept at it, mostly hoping to win the trust of the native peoples by their attention to the sick, care for the children, interest in and respect for their customs and traditions, hospitality in their primitive dwellings… in other words, by their charity.
One day, Saint Isaac Jogues recalls, some members of the tribe were harassing the Jesuit missionaries. Who suddenly came to their defense, but the chief himself! Reprimanding the unruly ones who had been taunting the priests, he reminded them that these “blackrobes” had been good to them, and that, therefore, the missionaries deserved to be treated well, with respect.
The saint was ecstatic, he recorded, because this was a sign of gratitude! The chief wisely acknowledged that the missionaries had given them a lot, and that, therefore, the tribesman should be good to them.
Father Isaac Jogues was thrilled, because he knew from the Bible, gratitude was the beginning of faith! Now their strategy was to lead these people to be grateful, not only to the missionaries, but to the one, true God, revealed to Israel, and through Jesus, whose goodness to us was infinite!
Saint Augustine taught that gratitude is the beginning of faith!
When we’re grateful to God, when we acknowledge that, without Him, we can do nothing, that everything we have and are is an unmerited gift from a good God who loves us personally, passionately, and eternally, well… we’re people of faith, trust, humility, and generosity!
That’s how essential the virtue of thanksgiving is!
That’s why Thursday’s national feast day is so special!
When we lack gratitude, we become selfish, petty, egocentric, and develop a sense of entitlement: we’ve got certain things coming to us! We deserve everything now! Get out of my way and give me my due right now!
Last Friday we recalled the assassination of the leader who challenged us, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country!”
Substitute “God”; substitute “other people”; substitute “church” for “country” and you’ve got a great motto for Thanksgiving Day!
A blessed Thanksgiving, everybody!
I thank God for you!
I thank you for all you do for God, the Church, for others, for our country!