"In this spirit of gratitude, at the end of this most difficult and challenging year, I would like to thank the following."
In the weekly papal audience last Wednesday, December 30, Pope Francis called on all Christians to be bearers of gratitude. He reflected on Jesus’ healing of 10 lepers as described in St. Luke’s Gospel, noting that only one of the lepers, a Samaritan at that, returned to thank Jesus for healing him. He pointed at how the world is divided into two: “those who do not give thanks and those who do; those who take everything as if it is owed them, and those who welcome everything as a gift, as grace.”
Francis describes what happened to the lepers:
“From a distance, Jesus invited them to present themselves to the priests, who were designated by law to certify healings that had occurred. Jesus said nothing else. He heard their prayer, their cry for mercy, and He sent them immediately to the priests.
“Those 10 lepers trusted, they did not remain there until they were cured, no: they trusted and they went immediately, and while they were on their way, they were cured, all 10 were cured. The priests would have therefore been able to verify their healing and readmit them to normal life.
“But among them, there was one who experienced an additional joy: in addition to being healed, he rejoices at meeting Jesus. He is not only freed from evil, but he now possesses the certainty of being loved. This is the crux: when you thank someone, give thanks, you express the certainty that you are loved. And this is a huge step: to have the certainty that you are loved. It is the discovery of love as the force that governs the world.”
The Pope continued: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us seek to remain always in the joy of encountering Jesus. Let us cultivate joyfulness. The devil, instead, after having deluded us — with whatever temptation — always leaves us sad and alone. If we are in Christ, there is no sin and no threat that can ever prevent us from continuing joyfully on our way, together with many other companions on the road.”
The Pope quoted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says “Every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving.”
This prayer of thanksgiving, according to Francis, always begins here and recognize that grace precedes us: “We were thought of before we learned how to think; we were loved before we learned how to love; we were desired before our hearts conceived a desire. If we view life like this, then ‘thank you’ becomes the driving force of our day.”
In this spirit of gratitude, at the end of this most difficult and challenging year, I would like to thank:
All our health workers – doctors, nurses, medical technologists, etc. – who have risked their own lives and health to combat the coronavirus;
All essential workers in the public and private sector – for their dedication in the face of great risks;
To my colleagues in in the legal profession, in particular former Vice-President Jojo Binay, former Senator Rene Saguisag, Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Egon Cayosa, Atty Neri Colmenares, Atty Edre Olalia, Dean Pacifico Agabin, Dean Chel Diokno, Atty Jojo Lacanilao, Atty Ging Ursua, Dean Ada Abad, Atty Teddy Te, and other convenors of the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties, and many others who have stood up to be counted in the fight to protect our human rights in this perilous time;
A special mention to the young lawyers in the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers – Krissy Conti, Kathy Panguban, Sol Taule, Josa Deinla, and others – I will always be at your back as there is not a day that I am not amazed and grateful at how courageous, imaginative, and passionate you all are;
To the politicians I like and respect most – Vice-President Leni Robredo, Senators Risa Hontiveros, Kiko Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara, and Win Gatchalian, Mayors Vico Sotto, Isko Moreno, Abby Binay, Marcy Teodoro, Rex Gatchalian, and Joy Belmonte, Governor Kaka Bag-ao, and Representatives Rufus Rodriguez, Fidel Nograles, and Loren Legarda – for your public service;
A big shout out of gratitude to Representatives Karlos Zarate, Sarah Elago, Ferdinand Gaite, Arlene Brosas, France Castro, and Eufemia Culllamat of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives – for your legislative and fiscalizing work, above all for the incredible work ethic and dedication to the interests of the basic sectors that you have shown, as exemplified by Cong. Cullamat’s strength in the face of the death of her daughter;
To Senator Leila De Lima – your courage and steadfastness inspires me not to rest until you are freed from unjust detention.
To Margie Holmes and Jeremy Baer for the pleasure of having the best neighbors during a pandemic.
To my family, nuclear and extended, and to all those who assist us and are part of our quarantine bubble – we would not have survived this without each other.
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