In John’s Gospel, Jesus encourages us to believe that “I have come that you might have life, life in abundance.” (John 10;10) What a powerful invitation when it appears that there is little room for abundant life in a world where strife, war, poverty, and corruption continue to cause our fear to rise and our trust in the abundance of goodness to lessen. We hold tightly to what appears to be so little, living in a world of scarcity. It doesn’t serve us well.
St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi lived in a similar world in the thirteenth century, a world plagued by war and poverty. Yet, they started a movement that kept joy and abundance at the heart of their lives. They could not find enough words to express how good God is – all good, the only good, the highest good. What gave them the grace to live with such abundant gratitude?
I believe it has everything to do with living without grasping. If our hands are open, we receive all as gift and we give all as gift – such a sacred exchange! Try it. Squeeze your hands tightly together as if you were attempting to hold on to the last little bit of yourself. Your whole body will tighten with the intensity of it all. Now, open your hands and relax, receiving all as gift. What a difference it is as your whole body relaxes into gratitude! Then all of creation becomes our brother or sister and we desire to live knowing we have all we need and all we desire. This is not a “Pollyanna” way of life but rather a sacred exchange with all of creation, including other human beings
. As Meister Eckhart shares “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”
This Thanksgiving season, let our hearts be full of abundant gratitude. There won’t be room for anything else!
With Francis of Assisi, we join in singing his “Praises of God.”
You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and Your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are Almighty.
You, Holy Father are King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God, all Good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good, Lord God, living and true.
You are love. You are wisdom.
You are humility. You are endurance.
You are rest. You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches, and You suffice for us.
You are beauty.
You are gentleness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are our courage. You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith, our great consolation.
You are our eternal life, Great and Wonderful Lord,
God Almighty, Merciful Saviour.