The first half of the 17th century saw Germany finding itself in the midst of wars, famines and pestilences.
In one of the cities named Eilenburg, lived a pastor by name Martin Rinkart.
Plague had swept through the town and the Thirty Years’ War had caused major wreckage among the people.
On one particular day, Rinkart had to conduct up to 50 funerals a day – some including the members of his own family.
Yet, when darkness and destruction was raging hard, Pastor Rinkart wrote as many as 66 sacred hymns.
Among them, was the song, “Now thank we all our God!”
(This hymn is included in the Hymns for Night Prayers in the Divine Office Prayer Book)
“Now thank we all our God, With heart and hands and voices
Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices
Who from our mothers’ arms, Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today”
That was amazing, isn’t it?
• As sorrow was encompassing him all around, Rinkart could still sing of the gratitude to God
• As the sea of grief surrounded and lashed his life, he could still chant the hymns of thanksgiving
Thankfulness does not always have to bear an appointment with prosperity and peace, isn’t it?
Gratitude does not necessarily have a date with ‘all things being fine’, isn’t it?
Our entire life – be it entrenched with joy or ingrained with moments of grief – ought to become a ‘demonstration of thankfulness and gratitude’.
The Gospel of the Day presents the beautiful picture of Jesus “raising His heart in gratitude” even in discouraging and despairing moments.
The Gospel passage is the familiar episode of the multiplication of the loaves.
Humanly considered, the scene was pretty discouraging and daunting…
• It was a deserted area
• Vast crowds of people – many who had followed Jesus on foot – had spent a large part of the day with the Lord.
• It was already evening and the time was running out for the people to get food for themselves
When the disciples looked at the massive challenge that was put forward by Jesus – “Give them some food yourselves” (Mt 114:16) – they would have been totally in despair and confusion.
The challenge of Jesus had given them every opportunity to complain and whine…
…. Is our Master gone crazy in telling us to provide food for such a massive crowd, without having any resources at hand?
… Has our Master forgotten the basics of economics – that demand can be met only when there is a proper supply?
… Is this our Master’s way of humiliating and insulting us before such a large multitude?
There was hardly anything to look forward to…
There was absolutely no trace of hope coming on the way…
• Tension and worry was in the air…
• Clouds of despair and apprehension were getting thicker…
Yet, with great confidence and trust, Jesus, the Master was an epitome of thankfulness and gratefulness!
As the saying goes:
“Worthwhile is the smile of the boy who can still grin, when his two front teeth are knocked off!”
Making the crowds sit, Jesus exhibits a wonderful act of gratitude.
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, Jesus said the blessing…” (Mt 14: 19)
It was as if the Lord was singing a hymn in His heart,
“O may this bounteous God, Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts, And blessed peace to cheer us,
And keep us in His grace, And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills, In this world and the next”
The two fish and the five loaves – humanly speaking – were nothing before the mighty crowd.
Yet, our Blessed Lord could chant the strains of thanksgiving in His Heart!
Gratitude is a beautiful flower that blooms in a garden nurtured by the waters of trust and hope in God!
And so the Lord invites that our entire life – be it entrenched with joy or ingrained with moments of grief – ought to become a ‘demonstration of thankfulness and gratitude’.
Today our life maybe at the crossroads
Today our hearts may be touching rock bottom due to many problems and worries.
Yet, can we take heart, and like Jesus, dare to sing a hymn of thanks and gratitude?
Can we lift up the five loaves and two fish…
…. of our broken dreams and our shattered hopes
… of our blurred vision and our lost enthusiasm
… of our confused present and our uncertain future…
… and OFFER it up to God – “looking to heaven and saying the blessing”?
• A miracle might not seem anywhere in sight…
• A wonder may be improbable as per our calculations…
But when one lifts up one’s heart in gratitude – despite the hopelessness and the despondency around – the God of all wonders will surely multiply blessings in our lives and “we shall be filled and satisfied with His glory!”
Thanksgiving grows out of a heart of immense certainty and confidence in God.
The evening clouds of despair might be descending fast in our lives…
Our lives maybe estranged in the wilderness of loneliness and dejection..
Yet, may our Blessed Lord inspire and give us the grace to make our lives a constant ‘demonstration of thankfulness and gratitude’.
May we always sing:
” All praise and thanks to God, the Father, now be given,
The Son and Him Who reigns, With Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore!
God Bless! Live Jesus!