Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
I receive many suggestions and thoughts for my LOA email. Some suggestions are about experiences, others are from spiritual thoughts, and still others from theological themes. A recent suggestion came from a friend and graduate of the theological program of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, Connie Bach. Connie has been a theological resource and organizer of the Pallium lectures for many years, and she continues to engage in updating her reading in the areas of theology. She will often inform me of some theological themes that we might consider exploring for presentations or reflections. Recently, one theme she invited me to consider was gratitude. Often neglected, gratitude forms the basis of our relationship with God and our vision of life in this world.
St. John writes on this subject, saying: “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 John 4:8-12)
As we approach Thanksgiving, we realize that this will be a Thanksgiving unlike any other. We will not have the large gathering of family and friends at our dinner tables, travel will be somewhat restricted, and many will have their eyes fixed on COVID-19 statistics. Some will wonder what there is to be thankful for. I hope that we all start with God’s love. The fact that God loves us is demonstrated in the Incarnation (Jesus becoming man). This is a demonstration of just how profound that love is. This alone should give us pause to give thanks.
Some of us act like children at Christmas, surrounded by blessings but insisting that we need more things – desiring the newest, shiny toy to be satisfied. We might be frustrated because things are not exactly the way we might want them to be. Many are blind to the fact that we possess and experience more than most of the world’s population. Fellow citizens, many we will never know, have sacrificed their lives so that we might enjoy the freedoms we possess. We are blessed to be Americans.
We have the gift of life, but not all are so protected. We cannot take for granted that we have been blessed and protected, especially when we realize that there are those in our society whose lives may be extinguished because of simple inconvenience. When we remove our masks to utter our prayers at Thanksgiving, let us thank God for His Love. Let us thank God for our freedoms. Let us thank God for our life, shared with family and friends. In gratitude, let us offer a pledge to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the November 24, 2020, "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.