Gratitude and Worship

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I say to you: to everyone who has will something be given; from the one who does not have even what he has will be taken away.

Luke 19: 26

Whenever the living creatures gave glory and honor and thanks to the One who sits on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the One who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

Worthy are you, our Lord and God
to receive glory and honor and power;
for you created all things;
by your will they were created and came into being.

Rev. 4: 9-11

The saying of Jesus given by Luke as the conclusion of “the parable of the pounds” in today’s gospel appears here in his gospel for the second time. Although from one point of view this saying seems counter-intuitive, if not unjust, we can, with some reflection, see that it is an accurate psychological description. When we are disposed to recognize our life and what constitutes it as gift, we come to experience the nature of that graciousness of God more and more. When our hearts are closed and self-centered, we are unable to recognize grace and love, even when it is being offered to us.

When I look at the day before me as merely responsibilities to be met, duties to perform or time to get through, life seems burdensome and isolated. When, however, I am aware of my life as a gift, when even the seed of the disposition of gratitude has some root in my heart, then I begin to recognize that moment after moment of my day is a loving gift to me from the One from whom we come, in Whom we live, and to Whom we are returning. In listening to others, I am often amazed how the lives of those who feel unloved and uncared for are filled with persons and experiences that have and that are attempting to care for and sustain them. There are persons whose lives are grateful and full although they have very little, and there are those who have far more than they need who are filled with loneliness and resentment.

In today’s “vision” from Revelation, we are reminded by the author of that which is the ultimate Reality and of our fundamental purpose in life. It is to live a life of worship of “the One who sits on the throne.” The author of Revelation was reminding his readers that the Ruler of the universe was in heaven, not in Rome, that worship is due only to the God of all, and that living sanely as a human being always requires Divine worship and thanksgiving. Unless one “has” this perspective, then our experience of life will always be out of joint. Without living in a heart that knows its place in the God who gives it life, “even what one has will be taken away.” Human life is life in forgetfulness. We are always forgetting where we came from, who we really are, and what our life is really for. In the language of the spiritual tradition, we live a consciousness that is multiple and dissipated rather than living in purity of heart, in the awareness of “the one thing that is necessary.” When we know our own hearts and we worship God alone, we realize the gift that is our world and our own life, and discover that our deepest call is to live out in our lives of prayer and action thanksgiving and worship to that “One who sits on the throne,” who is the God of our lives and of the world.

Enter eagerly into the treasure-house that lies within you, and so you will see the treasure-house of heaven; for the two are the same, and there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your own soul. Dive into yourself and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which to ascend.

St. Isaac the Syrian

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