Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Forgive but do not forget

I have a crafted Christmas nativity scene on the wall of my presbytery, a gift on the 25th anniversary of my ordination.  The artwork of Jilumol Mariet Thomas.  But this creation is not the work of her hands, she does not have hands.  The amazing piece of art was created with her legs alone.  When I met Jilumol she was a school girl in an institution run by the Sisters of the Destitute, where my cousin Sr Christine was in charge.  Now she has a university degree in graphics and animation and works as an animation artist.  Jilu, though she does not have any hands, can drive a car and look after herself.  In a recent interview she said, “People see me not having hands. They don’t think I can do things like them.”  Then she started to acknowledge the many people who helped her realise her potential and express her gratitude for them.  Jilu remembered as a child her aunt throwing a book on the floor and stepping on it, and opening it with her leg.  That was the start of a new education for her.  She is grateful to her parents who made sure she had a proper education. She went on to name many more people and institutions she is grateful for helping her to grow up to what she is now.  You might say she is motivational.  It is more than that.  Her sense of gratitude can be seen blossoming into joy and peace.

Most people do not have such limitations and such challenges.  Yet many find it hard to enjoy that kind of joy and peace in life.  If you can’t see how you are provided for, you won’t know how to be grateful in life.  You will then end up in self-pity and a miserable life.  The exercise could start with simple things like your breakfast.

In the morning when you sit down to your bowl of cereal consider this.  Our provident God puts into one acre of grain 180 thousand litres of water, 3 thousand kilos of Oxygen, 2 thousand kilos of carbon 70 kilos of nitrogen, 55 kilos of potassium, 35 kilos of sulphur, 20 kilos of magnesium, a similar amount of calcium and phosphorus and such other elements.  To lose sight of such wonders in everyday life is to lose a sense of appreciation and gratitude.

You are indebted to a lot of people.  Most of all your gratitude should be to God who has forgiven your sins and failures.  Remember it is gratitude that makes life.  The more you are grateful, the more compassionate you will be to others.  The more compassionate you can be, the more joy will be coming your way.  Therefore, forgive those who are indebted to you, but do not forget the relief it brought.  God has gifted you with the ability to forgive others and be grateful for the goodness you enjoy.  It is the willingness to forgive and the heart full of gratitude that makes the life of a Christian.