“LOVE UNTIL IT HURTS, HURTING IS A GOOD SIGN”
Gratitude continues. (Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
These words emerged from the heart of a woman who gave her life for the Love of the poorest, and are based on a great teaching and truth. Jesus said “no one has greater Love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Meaning that those who choose to serve others with what they have show signs of true Love. And how can we thank someone who not only gave you something but gave their own life for you? This is why, in so many cultures, Mother’s Day is celebrated with such a high level of gratitude for the one who laid down her life to give birth to her babies and nourished her children out of genuine Love.
This is a follow-up to last month’s reflection on gratitude because this is a very serious, life-changing understanding. If we truly apply gratefulness to our lives, we will be happy, and God will provide us with everything we need. I personally believe that there is a small flock of people dwelling in this world who have discovered the secret of abundance. First, they discovered that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the abundance of life. Without them, we live in scarcity. With them, we live an abundant life, despite the apparent lack of any material needs.
I have decided to develop a series of topics related to the significance of gratefulness, the secret of an abundant life. If you understand and cultivate a grateful heart, you may discover the abundant life as described by Jesus “I came so that they might have Life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) If you believe and act upon the meaning of gratefulness, you will undoubtedly live Life on a different level.
The dictionary defines gratefulness as a feeling of esteem and recognition towards a person who has done a favor or rendered a service to you, and you want to reciprocate. The word gratefulness comes from the Latin root “gratus”, which means “pleasant”, and also refers to terms related to grace, gratuitousness, and “gratis” (for free).
Something really important, that I value much more now, is the example set by my mother. My mother did not have any formal education; she never went to school. At age 7, her mother died and a few months later, she was abandoned by her father. Her life was one of great suffering and poverty. Nevertheless, she was a great teacher to me. She gave freely to people, and I could see that, even though she lived in scarcity, she would always share whatever little she had with those in need. As a child, I wondered why my mom would give our neighbor the only tortillas we had. Later, I discovered that her actions stemmed from her being grateful to God for the ability to take an action to be gracious to another. And this has been her legacy up to this day instilled in me and in turn in my children and grandchildren. This helps me remember, all the time, that I am deeply indebted to God’s Father and His Son, who freely gave up His Life for us sinners.
As I said in the previous letter, I want to emphasize that this learning, lived out by my mother, was a gift that I will never forget. When I was just starting out in my study of the Scriptures and reading about the tithe; it raised many questions that led me to ask Fr. Santiago Merino, why the Catholic Church does not talk much about it. Of course, the tithe is not a compulsorily requirement of the Church but it has a great value and sheds a great blessing on those who are grateful for what they have received. Father Merino explained that indeed, “tithe is a wonderful principle and helps you fight material attachment.
” When I understood what was behind the tithe, I decided to show gratitude to God. If God gives me 100 percent, why not give 10 percent back as a way to recognize God’s blessings, my life, and my ability to work? To take an action of grace like my mother, only this time out of the abundance I have received; my mother planted the seed which is bearing the fruit of gratitude today; I invite you to take an action today and to plant a seed of gratitude for yourself, your family and their children.
According to the Act of the Apostles, early Christians “all who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” (Acts 2:44-45). The early Christians gave and shared a lot. Jesus also explained the tithe to the Pharisees (Luke. 11:42) and pointed out that, while they properly abided by the tithe, they neglected justice and the Love of God in their action of giving; in other words, they lacked gratitude.
My life was and continues to be abundant because I have practiced gratefulness in many ways, not only the tithe. And God has continuously blessed me and my family. We have never lacked what we need to live just like Jesus put it “give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, they will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6:38)
The Apostle Peter asked Jesus the following question “we have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for My sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with both persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and [the] last will be first.” (Mark 10:28-30) Here, the Lord reveals abundance, that those who believe in His promises will receive up to 100 times as much as they gave. So, I wonder about the many people who die every day loving and being attached to material things; the only reason for which they lived. I will say this again, if you do not practice gratefulness, you will always lack something. Conversely, those who show their gratefulness will not lack anything but will have more than enough. The Prophet Malachi said “put Me to the test, says the LORD of Hosts, and see if I do not open the floodgates of Heaven for you, and pour down upon you blessing without measure!” (3:10) Remember the teachings of our Church on the tithe considering that it is not compulsory but a personal choice; an act of your free-will on full display for your neighbor to see.
I bear witness to the blessings received and, thus, I will continue to practice gratitude and volunteer my service to the Church in His Name for the Lord will take care of me and my family. I acknowledge that I am deeply indebted to our Father for sending His Only Son to surrender His Life for you and me. I invite you and encourage you to live God’s abundant Life. I pray to Jesus that your heart will be grateful so that you receive all the Blessings that God has in store uniquely for you and you alone.
Now, I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have been generously contributing to this Apostolate so that we may continue to abundantly carry the Good Tidings to the world. And to those who are not contributing, I invite you to take action and be generous and open up the floodgates of Heaven for you and yours.
I will be waiting to see you at our next Metanoia Los Angeles, on July 22 and 23. Further, I greet all the Consecrated to Jesus under the I Am 73 Project and encourage them to persevere with a generous heart. I also welcome the people registering for the I am 73 Project and joining this discipleship project that continues to grow every day and brings abundant blessings to those who say YES to God. Should any of you wish more guidance or information about the I Am 73 Project, contact us at 818-912-5842. If you have an e-mail account, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
I pray for you and your family. May God take care of your needs and multiply your generosity. May the Virgin Mary intercede on your behalf and protect you.