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Home arrow Religion arrow The Theological Roots of Christian Gratitude
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Persons in Community

Humans depend on one another in their pursuit of wisdom and responsible behavior. We are not private individuals who have to find others to make community. On the contrary, people will only identify their selfhoods insofar as they recognize that they are born into community—indeed into many communities—which include the graced world of physical creation, family, nation, and all the many communities of which they are members and that they inherit through collective memory and explore in conversation. Human curiosity and human inquiry are not lonely matters but cooperative enterprises shared through experiment, memory, discourse, and fellowship.

All knowledge is the result of teamwork, not limited to the contemporary community of scholarship, but including the results of generations of human experience and inquiry. St. Paul’s anthropology implies that humankind, born in the image of God, is capable of self-knowledge through inquiring about the world with others. In so doing, we become self-consciously aware of the freedom we have to partner with God and undertake a special role in creation. The selves that we become are products of habitual behavior encouraged by our attention to God, who constantly reminds us that notwithstanding our tendency to give up, behave like fools, and follow false gods, we can behave so as to reveal to ourselves and in ourselves the image of God. The Christian’s habitual praying of the Our Father reminds him or her of the rigor of the demand while at the same time recalling God’s courteous pouring out of his spirit in renewal so that he or she can still realistically aspire to be in the image of God despite all evidence to the contrary. Such a life, lived dutifully and affectionately, will lead and nourish the Christian’s soul so that he or she really is in the eye of God; ultimately, it will enliven the Christian’s awareness of the vision of God, for whom in fact he or she longs and in whom he or she lives. In so doing, the Christian fulfills his or her calling to share the character of God and give himself or herself for the world’s sake.

This is the ultimate ground for gratitude: a feeling and a cognitive experience that informs one’s awareness of oneself as a child of God.

 
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