It’s always interesting to see who shows up for this Thanksgiving Mass -- because all of you are here because you WANT to be here – not because you HAVE to be here --- like Ash Wednesday, Thanksgiving is not a Holy Day of Obligation – and yet lots of people usually come ------------ although perhaps not in Covid-times. . .
We are here at 10 o’clock when I’m sure we all have other things we could be doing – trips to make, turkeys to stuff, tables to set. Somewhere there’s a football game waiting to be watched.
And yet we have taken the OPPORTUNITY to be here. It is an opportunity for us to think back on what we have been given – and to give something in return: our thanks. Actually thanks is too small of a word – we are here to give GRATITUDE – here to honor God with grateful hearts, for all God has done for us.
Very often, in our prayer lives, we spend so much time asking for things: God, help me pass this test. Keep me from throttling my teenager. Help me find a job. Keep my son safe in Afghanistan.
Jesus does tell us: ask and we shall receive, and to knock and it will be opened – so we do ask and we do knock. . .
But what happens then?
In Luke’s Gospel today , 10 people are cured by Jesus of leprosy. Only one comes back to say thank you – and that person is a Samaritan. He isn’t Jewish. But neither was St. Luke. Luke is the only Gospel writer who was not a Jew. And so his Gospel was written for those, like himself, who were the outsiders, the foreigners. Christ’s message, Luke is trying to tell us – is meant for everyone – not just Jews.
But in the gospel story – not everyone comes back.
Only that one, a Samaritan, the outsider – returns to give God glory. We don’t know what happened to the others – maybe they had turkeys to stuff or football games to watch. . .
Obviously there is something missing here – and what’s missing is that giving thanks is a vital and necessary part of our relationship with God.
All the lepers were cured – but only one was saved – only one was in right relationship with God – and that is the one who returned to give thanks!
And that is because thankfulness, gratitude – is a measure of our faith. A measure of our dependence on God. >>
Only a humble person can admit that everything they have – is not of their own doing – but is due to God’s generosity.
But sometimes gratitude can be hard to express.
Most of us know someone who is having a difficult time this Thanksgiving.
The woman who is spending her first holiday as a widow.
The father who has lost his job or has had his hours greatly reduced because of covid.
Those friends and neighbors who are hurting or alone.
Where are the blessings for these and others who are feeling, in a particular way: burdened, afflicted, cursed?
Those blessings are closer than we may think. Every breath we take is a blessing. Every moment of every day – a gift. Every struggle a test of our resolve and resiliency.
The German mystic and philosopher, Meister Eckhert, once wrote: “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you’, that will suffice.”
THAT is why we are here: to pray those words and to make them matter.
So taking a cue from Meister Eckhert – let’s make Thanksgiving more than just a holiday, more than an excuse to have a second slice of pie or to take a long nap in front of the television.
Make this very day a kind of prayer. And as the day unfolds, carry that prayer with you. Live it. Give it. Gratitude doesn’t have to end when you say grace over the turkey. In fact, it doesn’t have to end today – God’s gifts to us certainly don’t. Every beat of your heart affirms an unmistakable mystery: God has given us life. Extravagant. Wonderful. Painful. Tumultuous. Challenging --- LIFE.
So let’s be grateful >>>>>>
Let’s strive to remind ourselves of God’s blessings, wherever we find them and however they come to us. And to give thanks for them, every day, in every moment. AMEN!
Moments in time...