Gratitude for Blessings

18 October 2006: Feast of St. Luke
Luke 10, 1-12, 17-20: Gratitude for Blessings

The vision of St. Luke can be seen in the Gospel which he wrote. The Gospel today gives us a wider mission: as workers for the harvest. This mission is intended not just for special people like priests and nuns, but for all of us. You see the Gospel mentions “seventy-two men” who were sent by Jesus. The number 70 was for the Jews symbolic. It was held that during Jesus’ time that there were 70 nations in the world. And thus Luke whose Gospel we read today used the number 70 to mean that the mission of Jesus is for all nations; and therefore, the mission is for all of us. We are sent that all people will hear about Jesus, love Jesus and follow Jesus. It should also be noted that they were sent in pairs. That means, we do not do our mission alone, it is always in the sense of community. Thus, even if we are physically alone --- alone teaching catechism, or visiting the sick all by ourselves --- we actually do it in behalf of the Church, and in unity with the Church. Secondly, it also means that the harvest is assured. What are needed are laborers to harvest. We can be laborers. But what can be harvested, and how can we harvest? What can be harvested are blessings or graces; and thus we harvest by receiving our blessings.

Most of us have been given many more blessings than we have received. We do not take time to be blessed or make the space for it. We may have filled our lives so full of other things that we have no room to receive our blessings. Blessings are all over our lives, but they are waiting for our time and our attention for them to enter our hearts.

Many years ago, two boys were working their way through Stanford University. Their funds got desperately low, and the idea came to them to engage Ignacy Paderewski for a piano recital. They would use the funds to help pay their board and tuition.

The great pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000. The guarantee was a lot of money in those days, but the boys agreed and proceeded to promote the concert. They worked hard, only to find that they had grossed only $1,600.00.

After the concert, the two boys told the great artist the bad news. They gave him the entire $1,600.00, along with a promissory note for $400, explaining that they would earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and sent the money to him. It looked like the end of their college careers.

“No, boys,” replied Paderewski, “that won’t do.” Then, tearing the note in two, he returned the money to them as well. “Now,” he told them, “take out of this $1,600 all your expenses, and keep for each of you 10% of the balance for your work. Let me have the rest.”

The years rolled by --- World Way I came and went. Paderewski, now premier of Poland, was striving to feed thousands of starving people in his native land. The only person in the world who could help him was Herbert Hoover, who was in charge of the US Food and Relief Bureau. Hoover responded and soon thousands of tons of food were sent to Poland.

After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank Hoover for the relief sent him.

“That’s all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was Hoover’s reply. “Besides, you don’t remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college, and I was in trouble.”

Today, as many of you students, near the end of the first semester, you remember all those who have helped you. Often, our ambitions shield us from gratitude. When you go out of this church, and travel back home, spend some time to go through the whole semester, and remember your blessings. And do not forget, a large part of your stay in UP is not your own achievement, but God’s.

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