Fr. Jack Rathschmidt, ofm cap., and former faculty member in our School of Theology, gave us a talk on Advent gratitude. He gave kudos to Fr. Bill Frazier whom he described as one of the best professors he ever knew.
In the preface of the Mass for the Dead we read "for those who believe, life is changed, not ended."
He shared an image of Dr. Elizabeth Johnson who wanted us to imagine ourselves in a huge stadium filled with people, all our deceased friends and relatives, cheering us on who are still on the playing field, daily working out our salvation.
Gratitude is at the heart of the meaning of Eucharist. Jack offered gratitude for Maryknoll and Maryknollers who are, in his words "in my bones." He quoted Meister Eckhart who said, "If we utter no other prayer, let us say 'Thank you' and that will be enough."
Today is the feast of St. John of the Cross, who once said, "Whether a bird is tied by a thread or a rope, it is still bound. Our task is to free ourselves from what holds us back and fly into the mercy of our all-loving God."
We think of those who "laid hands" on us and passed on to us the traditions that make us who we are and compel us to be the visible sign of God's love (Hebrew: hesed) in the world.
Like with a mother's love, God's love for us is total, gratuitous and unconditional.
God cuts the thread or rope that ties us to the world of allurements and insanity and compulsions, because we do not need these. Our only proper response is gratitude.
If we are willing to die to our fears, our illusions, our self-absorption, only then will we realize God is enough for us.
Baptism is the dying to this old life and rising to new life in Christ.