The Motivation of Thankfulness – Are You Part of the 10%?

The Motivation of Thankfulness – Are You Part of the 10%?

The Motivation of Thankfulness – Are You Part of the 10%?

Last week, on the evening of the final day the Fall Conference for the USCCB, Bishop Joseph Strickland sat down and penned this:

Allow me to return to that Greek philosopher and the 90%. Heraclitus was a philosopher and a warrior. During a lull in the battle he wrote a letter to the leaders of Athens regarding the soldiers he was receiving as replacements. He said that for every 100 men they sent 90 were useless. They were little more than battlefield clutter. Out of the 100, about 10 were fighters and the outcome of the battle rested on their shoulders. And maybe one, only one, was a true warrior. The spiritual warfare is no less warfare, and I believe the percentages apply. The vast majority doesn’t want to know the truth. They just want things to be “nice” and the truth and the demands it would place on them as followers of Christ are unacceptable. I appreciate those who pray but if that’s all you do, remember it says in the epistle of St. James that “Faith without works is dead and has no power to save you!” I would ask those 90% to consider joining the warrior class. You are needed! If you cannot – Then at least stay out of the way. The battle is tough enough without clutter. If you cannot fight this Goliath, at least stand back and make room for those who are going forward to sling their stones. The false charity and empty spirituality of those who mouth pious platitudes over the broken bodies and souls of the innocent is an affront to the martyrs and missionaries who gave their lives to share the true faith. I have seen, up close and personal, the heart-rending results of allowing predators to destroy children, families, and faith. A “drawing room” spirituality does not have the power to fight the malignant evil of this age. Delicate sensibilities must be sacrificed and hands dirtied in favor of a cross-centered faith! We are not fighting for principles or philosophies. We are fighting for SOULS and we must not lose!

On this Thanksgiving Day, the Gospel (Luke 17:1-9) also points to 10% …

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine? 
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”

Indeed, where are the other nine?

 

Beware of Today’s Influencers

We need to be very careful. We are living in an age that is conditioning us; *training* us to live in a spirit of entitlement, removing any spirit of thanksgiving. This is the modus operandi of the influential elites of our time. They want us vanquished of any motivation to strive; they want us brought low and fully dependent upon them and their handouts. This way, we can be *told* what to believe; we can be told what we can do and what we cannot do; we can be controlled. That is, if we want their steady stream of handouts to continue.

Add to this, at least one generation was raised with the bogus *participation trophy* garbage. Literally, training young people to never strive: “We don’t want to hurt your feelings by asking you to strive to be the best version of yourself, so just show up and we’ll reward you for merely attending.” Now, this is going to be very tough to get out of the bones of those who were, literally, *abused* by this *training to be minimalists.*

More recently, the elites were given a very powerful tool with the pandemic, so they could dole out a plethora of freebies to *train* folks into becoming dependent. Now we are seeing employers who are begging for employees. As a result, we are already seeing poor quality goods, if you can even find the goods. Instead of a spirit of gratefulness for employment, and a drive to strive to do their best in the most expeditious way, employees are *calling the shots,* and giving a bare minimum of effort. And, if the employer complains, employees blithely respond, “Hasta la vista, and good luck finding a replacement for me.”

This entitled and trained for minimalism has also infiltrated the Church. I believe that is what Bishop Strickland was calling out (above). Fewer are choosing to enter seminaries or religious life, fewer are getting married in the church, fewer are Baptizing their children, and fewer are even going to Mass; and, it is like climbing Mt. Everest to recruit volunteers or to get folks to turn out for parish events. Like the *needed employee* sited above, the spirit seems to be one that says, “You are lucky I am here on Sunday, which is a lot more than most people are doing.” Again, you can see what got into Bishop Strickland.

 

Who Are the 10%?

Who are the 10%? What could possibly be there motivation to strive when everyone around them is *training* them to believe they have no need to strive? The answer comes in one word: THANKFULNESS.

A very striking example of the 10% is seen in the image I used for this article. The image shows the horde of young men who filled the recruitment stations after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. What got into them?! Why would they bother putting their lives on the line, as they left the comfort of home and family?! The answer comes in one word: THANKFULNESS.

The story of these young men, and anyone who makes the same kind of heroic choice, has been told over and over. Everyone of these heroes always speak, first, of their immense THANKFULNESS for God, country and family. So thankful, they are willing to put their lives on the line to defend it.

And, it is NOT just these young men. I think about the Gold Star families, and all of the families who make such great sacrifices when their loved one is deployed away from them. I think of the *kiss good-bye* spouses make every morning, as one of them puts on their badge and may not be home that night.

 

For Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord

It’s hard to even imagine this level of self-sacrifice, and even harder for all of us to imagine in this current age that has pulled out all of the stops to train us all to *feel* we do not *need to strive* to live outside of our comfort zones.

Somehow, someway God breaks through. Somehow, someway we, like the grateful (10%) leper in the Gospel today, throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus, FILLED with THANKFULNESS for EVERYTHING God has done for us! This thankful soul is beside itself in an exuberance to seek anyway possible to express their thankfulness!

On this Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for my parents who modeled this *thankful sacrificial striving* that included our whole family. What they modeled was the very essence of faith. As Bishop Strickland aptly pointed out, “Faith without works is dead.” Our family practically lived at our parish, which is the main mission base of every family. And, when mom and dad needed to go to the parish for *adult activities,* we kids managed, either with a sitter or my older sister, Judy, when she came of age. This was not about abandonment, but very much about *modeling duty,* which would have lifelong positive effects on our faith.

Our family’s faith was not dead. No, it was very much alive, as we looked for every opportunity we could to express our THANKFULNESS to God. We were part of the 10% who accepted the challenge of Bishop Strickland: “I would ask those 90% to consider joining the warrior class. You are needed!” THIS was the most impactful part of our faith formation. I know I would not be a priest today if my parents didn’t instill in me that “Faith without works is dead” … and, be sure to be a part of the THANKFUL 10%!!

“And Joshua said unto all the people … choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:2,15).

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

My sermon spoke on this topic: