Stop Complaining

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

What a difference our attitude towards life makes to our enjoyment of life. This is the positive approach of one woman:

Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes, we have plenty of food to eat.

Thank you for this pile of dirty laundry, we have plenty of nice clothes to wear.

And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds. They were so warm and so comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed.

My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy towels and dirty lavatory. They are so convenient.

Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly, it has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of enough leftovers for a few meals.

Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today. It has baked so many things over the years.

Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says you have richly blessed my family. I shall do them all cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully. (Author Unknown)

(The above prayer is an excerpt. Unfortunately I do not know the source. If you know the source please inform me so that I can acknowledge. Thanks. More material on positive thinking)

Such a beautiful positive attitude is what you would expect of a disciple of Jesus. This is not the attitude we see in the Jews who were complaining about Jesus in the Gospel today (John 6:41). He said to them, “Stop complaining to each other.” (John 6:43) Why were they complaining? They did not really know Jesus. If they had known Jesus properly they would not have complained. We would all do well to pay heed to these words of Jesus, “Stop complaining to each other” because sometimes we complain like the Jews of his time. You have the power to be happy and stop complaining. It is a question of attitude. Be grateful for what you have. See the presence of God with you. Count your blessings.

The attitude in the first verse of our Psalm today is an example to us.

“I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise always on my lips” (Ps 34:1)

What a beautiful attitude to have, “I will bless the Lord at all times”, in other words, “I will praise the Lord at all times.” “His praise is always on my lips.” How wholesome and beautiful an attitude that is compared to grumbling and complaining. The preface to every Eucharistic Prayer contains this line, “Father, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks…” We do well always and everywhere to give God thanks. That is a beautiful line in the preface to our Eucharistic Prayer. Let us give thanks to God always and everywhere.

When we have problems to overcome, and we all do from time to time, let us ask the Lord for help. In our first reading (1 Kings 19:4-8) we heard that Elijah received strength from heaven to continue his journey when he was overcome. Jesus is the bread of life to strengthen us to overcome all our problems. Let’s listen again to what we hear in the readings for today’s Mass:

“Stop complaining to each other”;

“I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise always on my lips”

“Father, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks”

At the beginning I shared with you a woman’s positive attitude. Now I would like to conclude by sharing another person’s positive attitude:

I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the clock strikes midnight.

I have responsibilities to fulfill today.

My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.

Today I can feel sad that I don’t have more money or I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.

Today I can grumble about my health or I can rejoice that I am alive.

Today I can lament over all that my parents didn’t give me when I was growing up or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.

Today I can cry because roses have thorns or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.

Today I can mourn my lack of friends or I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.

Today I can whine because I have to go to work or I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.

I can complain because I have to go to school or eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new pieces of knowledge.

Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or I can feel honored because the Lord has provided shelter for my mind, body and soul.

Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping. What today will be like is up to me. I get to choose what kind of day I will have! (author unknown)

(You may also be interested in my homily Attitudes healed on the Road to Emmaus on positive attitudes.
See also Stories on Positive Thinking in my Archive of Stories)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Nineteenth Sunday Year B

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