Thanksgiving: Nov. 25, 2021
I said a couple of months ago –that I miss my parents. I certain all of us who have lost our parents, or anyone we have loved --- can say that: we miss them.
My mother died on April 24, 2018. I was privileged to be with her when she died. She was in and out of consciousness for the last several hours I and my nephew spent with her.
Around 4 in the morning, she woke up and said that she was thirsty and wanted some water. After I gave her a drink – she looked me in the eyes and said, “thank you.” And those are the last words my mother ever spoke on this earth –
And I was left to wonder if they were spoken to me for that simple glass of water -------- or addressed to God for the gift of her entire life. . .
So here was a woman who had spent several days in the hospital --- and was in a great amount of pain. And yet – she could still say thank you!
I could not help but ask myself – what would I say if I were in my mother’s place? My answer was that I would probably have tried to call a little attention to myself. I probably would say – I’m tired. I’m in pain. I’m dying. And then either leave me alone – or crawl up in the bed and give me a big hug.
But Mom? As she was near to breathing her last – she said thank you – with a grateful smile on her face.
To me that means that even those who have next to nothing – who are just holding on by a thread- either to their entire lives or just life for this day or this week --can still have gratitude. Although those of us who have so much – can easily take what we have forgranted.
How much my mother, and those like her in similar situations – were like our Pilgrim ancestors who took time to be grateful even though they had so many reasons to be ungrateful.
Their first Thanksgiving celebration in Plymouth Colony in 1621 --- 400 years ago --- was not born of abundance.
They had suffered a terrible journey to this “new world.” They experienced the harshness of their first New England winter and had lost countless numbers of their fellow travelers due to weather and disease.
They were strangers in a strange land and the land did not yield an easy welcome. And yet they did not shy away of saying “thank you” – to each other, to their native American friends the Wampanoag tribe led by Massasoit --- and especially to their God.
That’s what today is all about. Saying “thank you.” Thank you not just for the good but for all aspects of life – the good and the bad. Thank you for each and every event, friendship and love of our existence. And thank you not just to each other and for our country – but thank you to God without whom there would be no blessings.
Back in his day, founding father and orator Ben Franklin spoke of the need for giving thanks and of gratitude in this way:
Who is rich? The one who is happy with what they have. A home. A spouse. Children – these are the great gifts of life.
Wealth is not theirs that have it – but the one that enjoys it. The one who is content has enough, and the one that complains has too much. Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it is. You are only poor when you want more than you have.
So enjoy the present hour, be mindful of the past, and neither fear nor dread--- the approaches of the future.
If you would have guests, be happy with them, and be happy yourself.
Nothing dries sooner than a tear. A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough. Wish not so much to live long, as to live well.
Great beauty, great strength, and great riches are really and truly of no great use: a good heart stands above all.
Proportion your charity to the strength of your wealth, or God will proportion your wealthy to the weakness of your charity. To bear other people’s afflictions, everyone has courage and enough to spare.
People who are wrapped up in themselves make small packages.
May we who celebrate this Eucharist of gratitude today and who will share the meal of Thanksgiving with others later ---
never fail to be aware of the countless blessings that enrich our lives and which we so often take for granted.
And no matter what our circumstances --- today may we be able to say those two simple words, often and loudly: THANK YOU!
11/25/2021 10:34:55 am
Excellent as usual.
11/25/2021 04:18:29 pm
Thank you Fr. Mathew for a inspiring homily on Thanksgiving Day. You have nicely presented it wrapped around your mom's last words "Thank you" and challenged us to be thankful. We are blessed to have you.
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