I'm so Grateful

08-19-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Robert Aliunzi

Dear Friends,

Yes, August 21st, is my birthday but unlike all the previous ones, I was not even almost aware of it until Facebook reminded me of it last week and Kelly just asked me to write something about my birthday from my heart. But this got me thinking as to why I don’t have any excitement and mood of celebration in me about my birthdays anymore? The obvious answer is the fact that I am becoming older and I don’t like it! But the more I thought about it, the more I also realized that it is not just about getting older but that getting older has re-ordered my priorities. I came to realize that over the last couple of years of living in my new country, the United States of America, I could have been greatly influenced by some aspects of our culture that constantly wants more and faster of most everything. I realized further that the more things I acquired for myself on my birthdays, the less fulfilled I was at every birthday. This new world order created by my new culture has therefore, made me to introspect the meaning of this particular birthday, which a friend of mine described as simply a bunch of numbers.

As I mulled over this bunch of numbers, I came to realize with more clarity that the more I shared whatever I had with others, especially with the less privileged, the more these numbers make sense and the more fulfilled I felt. This is true with regard to taking care of the education of the hundreds of orphans and poor children I have in Uganda through E3 Africa and the orphans I have in Haiti through Grow Haiti’s Children. This feeling of joy and fulfillment is also prominent whenever I visit the sick and suffering in our community or when I sit down to listen to the pains and challenges of my parishioners here at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. So, the theme of this particular birthday to me is GRATITUDE!

I am deeply grateful to God that I am able to help these orphans because He has blessed me in many ways over the years. Despite a very difficult childhood, He has provided me with a very good education complete with several University Degrees, a holy vocation to the priesthood and wonderful and very generous people who helped me through the most challenging years of my life.

For all these therefore, I can only say with the Psalmist: “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?” (Psalm 116:12). His amazing goodness to me often reduces me to a state of profound humility because I feel I do not deserve it and at times, it does not even make sense to me. However, the more I think of it, the more again, I have come to realize that God’s goodness and love is not supposed to make sense. Instead, it is to be enjoyed and embraced with great gratitude and joy. This is exactly what I have resolved to do on this particular birthday as I turn over sixty…I’m so grateful.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Pray for us. I love you!