“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give,” Jesus tells us. Or, as another translation has it: “Freely you have received, freely give.” Can you think of something that is all your own, and not a gift from God? Many people might cite their achievements, the money they have earned, the awards they may have received. Would any of that be possible without the talents and abilities God has given us? When you stop to think about it, everything we have is given to us by God. There is one exception: our sins. They are all our own. Everything else comes ultimately from God – not because we are good enough to deserve God’s gifts – for none of us is. God showers his gifts on us not as rewards for being good, but simply because He is so good that he wants to share his goodness and love with us.
What is the appropriate response? We can describe it in a single word: thanksgiving. Here’s a question we all need to ask ourselves from time to time: Am I a thankful person? If we are people of prayer – and you would hardly be here if you weren’t – then we’re probably pretty good at asking God for things. Are we equally good at saying “Thank you,” when our requests are granted?
I was born before universal air travel. In my childhood I remember hearing about the Pastor of a wealthy parish who regretted that so many of his parishioners were lost at sea every summer. When they asked him, How come? he explained: “Lots of my people ask every June for Masses for a safe passage to
Labor Day I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Masses of
thanksgiving requested for a safe return.”
What is the best way to thank God for all his gifts? The closing words of our gospel reading tell us: “Freely you have received, freely give.” In other words: we can’t keep God’s gifts, unless we give them away.” And it gets even better. When we do give them away, they come back to us. If you doubt that, just try it!