No worries if you're welcome

My friends had the good fortune to see their hard work grow a small accounting company into a firm with more than 400 employees. Their perspicacious business savvy is outmatched only by their work ethic, faith, and commitment to family and friends. These latter values prompt the husband of this couple to insist on some rather basic standards for those employed by him and his wife.

Amid the business practices that would concern a chief executive seeking to develop business, how colleagues respond to the simple expression, “Thank you,” could appear idiosyncratic. With a rising trend where fewer and fewer people seem to say, “No worries,” concern abounds if we are ever welcome. In my friends' company, employees are oriented to speak clearly and professionally and to always say, “You’re welcome!”

From baristas to bartenders, the loss of such a standard response in our society may reveal the loss of an essential value. If we are communicating that others should not worry about our doing something for them instead of reminding them that we welcome the opportunity to help, are we dismissing their gratitude? Are we encouraging, albeit subtly, that they deserve or are entitled to the aid we offered? Or, is there some suggestion that maybe anxiety is warranted in the favor given; thus, we are now kind enough to ameliorate that worry?

Using “No worries” or “You're welcome” is hardly a crisis for our society, yet it does beckon an important spiritual question: How do we respond to grace in our lives? The Eucharist, our weekly thanksgiving meal and prayer, is where we announce to God our vast gratitude, before our sisters and brothers, for all the blessings of our lives. How do we imagine God responding to us? “You are welcome, because I love you, and I want to share my blessings with you. Come, enjoy more abundance.” Or, “No worries. It really was no big deal that my Son died for you and the world, my Spirit sustains creation, and you continue to enjoy my love despite your frequent missteps.”

The chief executive's directive to his employees is one we can follow in our spiritual lives. We can remember that our words matter; how we respond to “Thank you” gives us a chance to consider what gratitude means to us.

Yes, we are welcome. And, let's remember the final words at every Mass: “Thanks be to God!”