Some days it may be harder to know this than others days, but every person in our lives is a gift to us from God. St. Paul knew both sides of that, to be sure. He had days where he had to lay down the law with some of the Churches he founded, and days when he could rejoice in them, like in today’s first reading from his letter to the Philippians. What strikes me about this, though, is the joy that St. Paul takes in telling people how thankful he is for them. How often do we do that? I know I don’t often do that enough.
Striking, too, is the way he goes about telling them what he is thankful for. He acknowledges that all of them are answers to prayer for him. He tells them how much God has blessed them just by putting them in his life. Can you imagine how much all the people in the Philippian community must have rejoiced in hearing this letter? When someone stops to tell you what a blessing you are, it can’t help but be a lift in your day. Recently a staff member here at the church wrote me a nice note to thank me for something that I considered just what I’m supposed to do. So I wasn’t expecting thanks for it, but it was sure nice to receive it.
So I got to thinking, what would my thank-you letter sound like if I were to write one to the community of St. Raphael? Maybe something like this:
I give thanks every time I stop to think about you.
I know what a great blessing you have been to me, from the moment you welcomed me here in June up to the present day.
I rejoice every time I see God working in you, whether it’s by volunteering in service day, helping with office work all around this place, teaching our young people, singing in our choirs or ministering at Mass, or any one of the hundred ways people give of themselves around this parish.
I am overwhelmed with joy when I see you working at Hesed House, or reaching out to the sick and homebound of our community. Many times people at the hospital have told me that they have had several visits from people at St. Raphael’s and that makes me so proud.
I know how generous you are to the parish, and to the poor. I know how often you take it upon yourselves to help with funeral lunches. I see the enthusiasm you have in joining the Knights of Columbus and in supporting our parish school and religious education program.
Not a day goes by that I don’t hear something good about what people at St. Raphael do for Christ, and I know how faithful you are to worship and prayer.
God is working in you and people can see that; I can see that.
So my prayer is that you would continue to grow in your faith and that we might all grow in holiness together. May we come together on that great day to worship in the heavenly banquet with Christ who is All in All. May we give Him glory in every moment.
So what thank-you notes do you need to write today? In today’s Eucharist, we should all give thanks for the many people God has given us to show us his love.