Sermon on Gratitude
Holy Child and St. Martin
October 13, 2013
Fr. Leonard Oakes
A grandmother and her young grandson was walking along Half Moon Bay beach when a wave of Maverick appeared out of nowhere, sweeping the child out to sea. The horrified woman fell to her knees, raised her eyes to heaven and begged The Lord to return her beloved grandson. And lo,another wave reared up and deposited the stunned child on the sand right in front of her. The grandmother inspected the boy carefully. He was fine. But then she stared up angrily toward the heavens and yelled, “When we came, he had a brand new hat that is worth $30!”
The theme of today’s Gospel is gratitude, in particular, the expression of gratitude God expects from us.
The Gospel according to Luke tells us a story of a single non-Jewish leper who returned to thank Jesus for healing him, while the nine Jewish lepers went their way under the false impression that healing was their right as God’s chosen people. They did not seem to feel indebted to Jesus or to God for the singular favor they had received. Instead, they hurried off to obtain a health certificate from the priests. “Where are the other nine?” Jesus asked the Samaritan leper and the crowd. “Did only one come back to say ‘thank you?’”
If there is one sin that most prevalent today, it is the sin of ingratitude. God does so much for us. Our indebtedness to him is enormous and yet we rarely or at least infrequently offer thanks for what he has done. In fact, most professing Christians don’t even offer thanks over their meals much less offer thanks over all that God does in their lives. We are much like the little boy who was given an orange by a man. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?” The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it.” “Balatan mo”
As a child, I was always taught by my mother to always say “Thank you” whenever I received a gift or somebody did something good to me. For a child of God, thankfulness is not confined to a day or a season, it is an attitude that we should have every day and every hour. In everything, give thanks to God.
I worked as a gate agent for United Airlines in 2000 to 2002. I just did an onboard announcement thanking the passengers for flying United and that I am confident with their safety in the hands of the Captain and the crew. As I was about to close the aircraft door, one of the first class passengers said, “Thank you for making us feel safe” When I returned to the Gate Counter, my supervisor noticed a big smile on my face and said, “You must have had a good time with your wife last night?” I said to him, “I just met God today inside the aircraft.” Since then, while the passengers are waiting at the gate, I would take the microphone and sing “I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.” or the song, “I left my heart in San Francisco”
Enthusiasm is contagious. If you go into your workplace with a smile on your face, full of life and joy, the whole place will come up to a higher level and you will hear people thanking you for touching their lives with your positive attitude.
Many times at night, as I cuddle my wife around my arms, I would whisper to her, “Thank God for giving me a wife so I don’t have to feel alone” We must learn to be happy and thankful always. Stop complaining if you are not living in your dream house, but rather thank God that you have a roof over your head and pray for those without.
A woman was complaining that she and her husband don’t have anything in common and that they don’t get along anymore. Well, he may not be a perfect husband but you can thank God that at least you have somebody to love. Do you know how many people are lonely today? Believe it or not, some woman would be glad to have your husband.
There are those who would wish they could marry Brad Pitt or Piolo or even Fr. Leonard for they carry the criteria of a man they are looking for. For the men, they wish they married Angelina Jolie or Angel Locsin. Be grateful for that man and that woman God gave you.
We need to recognize that eveyday is a gift from God. Certainly we have had obstacles in our paths and challenges to overcome, but our attitude should be, ‘Thank God I’m alive’ I live in a great country, I have family and great partner. I have opportunity. So I’m going to make the most of this day and give it my best.”
Miracles happen everywhere and every time to everyone. You suddenly met someone who touched your life and guided you to the right direction. Someone just stood by next to you and said, “You are doing a great job, thank you.” We easily forget to recognize these as miracles.
Over the past week, I have great reasons to thank God for enormous blessings I received. God surprised me in many ways, using wonderful people to show me other ways to reach out to others, to serve God among all others. The new Grand Master of California Masons, John L. Cooper III, a fellow Episcopalian, called me to serve the 60,000 strong masons in California as the Grand Chaplain for 2013-2014. Since then, God opened a new door for me and expanded my duty to spread His love.
I had a wonderful and inspiring breakfast with InnVision Shelter last Thursday at the Hyatt Burlingame. InnVision Shelter helps build a sustainable future for some of our most vulnerable neighbors-thousands of children, families and veterans who have fallen on hard times and are now homeless. There was this young high school girl who spoke about her rising up from being in the shelter to become a promising writer one day. She was awarded to attend the national writer’s week in Washington D.C. She has returned to permanent housing and self sufficient life. That touched my heart.
Many other people touched our lives in this place.
I wish Jim Adams is here today, a quite but loving man. He had touched everyone of us in many different ways. I thank him for all the things he had done in this Church and in everyone of us.
We give thanks for another miracle today, with our vibrant children and youth choir under the leadership of Carson Perez and our choir director Sadjie Guillermo. God surprises us every time and thanks be to Him.
After being healed, the 9 lepers never went back to Jesus to thank him for bringing them back again to life and the community. The outsider, the Samaritan was filled with smile and gratitude, came back and said to Jesus, “Thank you for healing me.”
My prayer for us today is that God would give us a spirit of gratitude, that we would always focus on the good and never take life for granted. If you will trust God each day and live according to His plan for your life, you will be happier and healthier, and you’ll rise higher than you ever imagined possible.
At this time, I would like to thank you all for all the time, the talent, the treasure and the love you have shared for Holy Child and St. Martin. Every good thing you’ve done for this Church and all who entered here, you’ve done it for God. May God reward us all more and more with the gift of Gratitude. Amen.