From the Archbishop

Gratitude removes resentment, restores life


March 3 2019January had all of the extremes of Australia on show: fire, flood and drought on the environmental side, and a Test match along with the Australian Open tennis on the sporting front. You can undoubtedly add your own observations to that mix. I thought that this January was a very good example of how our “bandwidth” of attention and concern is often overwhelmed by the many sources of information that are competing for our attention. On one hand is a relaxed time of sporting and other enjoyment and on the other an awareness that such relaxing pursuits are in stark contrast to the struggle for actual survival of others.

The drought in many parts of our country continues unabated. I saw this first hand in western New South Wales where much of the dioceses of Riverina and Bathurst are tragically without rain. Temperatures in excess of 40 degrees bake already-parched earth. Mercifully a convoy of trucks brought fodder to the surviving stock around Cobar all the way from Western Australia. Such is the reach of compassion and concern across our country.

In these harsh environments, even the best-intended efforts of lasting improvement are cruelly undermined by the elements. The unstable black soil has left many of the church buildings cracked, with some like St Paul’s Hay closed and in danger of collapsing. Rural communities are pressured in many ways and the churches and church communities that are part of them share the same experience of adversity. I came away with admiration for the grit and determination of the people who live in such places and for the commitment of church members and church leaders who live and minister there.

As I reflect on those experiences I see in a fresh way how important it is for our “bandwidth” of attention to be tuned to the things that really matter, not just to us, but to God. Living in Melbourne should give us so many grounds for gratitude to God for the daily blessings we experience. The necessities of life are there for most us without question, and the balance of entertainments and opportunities of service can be struck in a way that allows us to be productive but not depleted. These are grounds surely for gratitude.

The force of 1 Thessalonians 5, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing”, comes very close to a life lived with gratitude and most closely when that gratitude is towards God. It is said that gratitude is the opposite of resentment and that to be grateful removes resentment from our minds and hearts. It is not hard to see how that allows the restoration of much that is broken in human life by a hard heart and an unforgiving mind. Gratitude to God for sending his Son to live amongst us was the Christmas launchpad for the January we have experienced. I hope that you keep nurturing that spirit within you. There is much that we must not take for granted. Soon we will take our Lenten pilgrimage to Holy Week and the Cross – let us hold in our hearts the gratitude for our many blessings. May the knowledge of God’s love in Jesus fill you with joy, wonder and thankfulness.

Read more from Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Primate of Australia and Archbishop of Melbourne, at