Thanksgiving

Psalm 138

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart,
you have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels I will bless you.
I will adore before your holy temple.

I thank you for your faithfulness and love
which excel all we ever knew of you.
On the day I called, you answered;
you increased the strength of my soul.

All earth’s kings shall thank you
when they hear the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the Lord’s ways:
“How great is the glory of the Lord!”

The Lord is high yet he looks on the lowly
and the haughty he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of affliction
you give me life and frustrate my foes.

You stretch out your hand and save me,
your hand will do all things for me.
Your love, O Lord, is eternal,
discard not the work of your hands.

After you’ve been married or in religious life for a while, there’s a tendency to start taking the relationship for granted.  It’s not that you love your spouse or the members of your community any less.  Over time, you just become so at ease with them that comfort begets complacency.

Thanksgiving is a time for us to focus on the great gift the Lord has been in our life and in the lives of those we love.  It’s about sharing the gift of ourselves with others.

Thanksgiving is a special time to be grateful for what the Lord has granted us both materially and spiritually, but it does not mean dwelling in comfort and abundance.  Rather, it implies a personal response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who calls us to be His courageous servants of all that is true, good and beautiful, and to make a connection between the faith that we learn and the lived experience of that faith.

In the Gospel of Luke, nine of the ten lepers are so comfortable in their relationship with the Lord that they fail to “bless the God of all who has done wondrous things on earth.”  Only one of them came back to give thanks to the Lord and, through his physical healing and restoration, received an even greater gift of spiritual renewal and salvation.  The lesson for us is that God has ways of rewarding those who are generous with what they have received from Him.

 Every Sunday we come together in the ultimate act of giving thanks: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where we receive the Holy Eucharist, which literally means “thanksgiving” (the Greek word “eucharistein” means “to give thanks”).  The Eucharist strengthens and nourishes us in the middle of the desert of our lives–on our journey of faith–so that we can be faithful witnesses to the goodness, beauty, and fidelity of Jesus Christ in the hope that we may be a Eucharistic presence in the lives of others amidst a culture that constantly nourishes itself on the food of this world–food that fails to satisfy the human heart’s hunger and thirst for truth.

We thank God the Father for the grace He has bestowed on us in Christ Jesus; for the sacrifice of his only-begotten Son by which we are sanctified and saved, and that this sacrifice is made present to us in its fullness of grace and love and spiritual fruitfulness every time we dare to approach this holy altar to receive Jesus.  This is a gift for which mere thanks is not enough.  So we fall down in worship before the Lord and we recognize in gratitude our responsibility to live what we receive, to become “other Christs” in the world, to live the Gospel and to allow the grace of the Holy Eucharist to refashion us in the image and likeness of God, which we had lost through sin, and that continues to be obscured by our attachment to sin.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, let us be faithful stewards of the natural and supernatural gifts of God: our homes, families, and work as well as the grace of the sacraments, prayer, and the hope of eternal life.  Let us also be thankful for the crosses as well as for the resurrection experiences in our lives.  Let us receive all of these gifts in a spirit of humility and an attitude of gratitude.  Let us “give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His love endures forever.”

©2011 Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers

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