The overarching theme of today’s reading is gratitude. ‘sing a new song to the Lord, sing to the Lord, all the earth.’ Gratitude, for God has given us the light of life: ‘The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light.’ Gratitude, for God has made ‘our joy greater,’ for God ‘has given us harvest time’. Finally, gratitude for God ‘has removed the yoke that was weighing on us, and broke the rod of our oppressor’, sin. We are called to recall why the Christian soul must be grateful. When we, individually, will make our list of these gifts, situations or persons - we will see that just as words of our love towards God don’t come easy, gratitude does not come easy either. The sense of gratitude is what marks us out as Christians.
Saint Paul’s letter highlights the importance of gratitude from a practical angle. When a community practices the virtue of gratitude community cohesion, and unity in daily businesses, is far stronger. We can read between the lines, what happens when Christians don’t make thanksgiving the cornerstone of their daily prayer-life. ‘I appeal to you, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice.’ If we read further between the lines, we understand, that the thanksgiving of the community does not end with the words of prayer. What are the ways, the regular chores in our church building, in which we can express our gratitude on a weekly, if not daily basis? I do think that the chores of our rotas, from cleaning, decorating, cooking, and to all our voluntary work, can lead to tremendous joy.
In view of the theme of gratitude, the Gospel speaks to us in the most personal way. The calling of the disciples, by name, one by one, is the utmost opportunity for our thanksgiving today. Opiso mu! Get behind me, right now, and follow me. Jesus is walking, has not stopped, when the disciples were given the call. There was not much time, not even half a minute, to ponder this call. They had to make the decision quickly - as Jesus would have disappeared from their sight. This shows the nature of gratitude and grace: readiness! They were called into the eternal life of the Kingdom of God. No time for hesitation; neither for us.
When we hear the names of the disciples, in their names, you are called. You are called to the same joy of the Kingdom, for which our baptism has marked us out. So let us ask for a grateful spirit in order to joyfully give thanks for our baptism, and call to lead a Christian life. That is, giving thanks for the privilege, that we are called to make Christ-like decisions, and decide in those situations, as Jesus would do. How can we spread the light of his Presence?
What are the reminders and daily promptings to live a life of thanksgiving? What are these reminders, daily promptings and practices, in your case? What is your way of framing your days, and life, in Christ? What signs have the Lord given you? (See the parable of ‘a dog knows its master’ from The Hafetz Hayyim on the Holy Days, Mishan Torah Education Institute, Jerusalem, 5737-1977, pp. 15-16)
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..