Grace and Thanksgiving
By Ivonne Hernandez
“Return to the heart! Why do you go away from yourselves, and perish from yourselves? Why do you go the ways of solitude? You go astray by wandering about. Return. Where? To the Lord, it is quickly done! First, return to the heart. You are wandering without, an exile from yourself! You do not know yourself, and you ask by whom you were made! …Return to your heart! See there what you perceive about God because the image of God is there. In the inner person Christ dwells; in the inner person you are renewed according to the image of God.” –  St Augustine
There are times when the world around us seems in the verge of collapse, when evil, terrible things happen and we find ourselves angry, sad and confused. There are days when hate seems to be spreading faster than love, and that instead of the Earth being ablaze with God’s fire, it seems consumed by fire from below. We as a society don’t know what to do with our anger anymore. When the pain becomes too much to bear, we look outside of ourselves for someone to throw it at so we can be free from all these feelings we don’t like. We look for a scapegoat. The problem is that this approach backfires, as the anger we throw out bounces right back at us, and usually jumps over to the people around us, spreading like a wildfire. What are we to do instead?
Return to the heart! Turn to Him who dwells in your heart, and “cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” (1Pet 5:7) Jesus does not take our pain and throw it back at us. He transforms it in Himself and renews us according to His image. He gives us His Peace in return. When we realize the Grace we have received, our hearts turn to thanksgiving. It is here then, when our hearts of stone are changed for hearts of flesh, that we are transformed. For what is a Eucharistic heart but a heart full of thanksgiving?
“I will offer a sacrifice of praise and call on the name of the LORD.” (Psalm 116:17) It is then from this place that we can act. From this place of Communion we can seek justice in this world, because then we will be acting in Him and through Him. Hatred will have no hold on us for there will be no room for it in our hearts. We will not return hate for hate, but will return His love. This is how the flame of His love will spread, one heart at a time. “You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
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We are Ivonne J. Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.