It is hard to believe yet another year is drawing to a close. Thanksgiving is upon us and with it, the “official” start to the holiday season and the ensuing frenzied scurrying about of gift buying and party going. But at the start of this frantic race, collectively as Americans, we do pause to give thanks to God for our blessings.
Although the origins of this holiday as we know it today are decidedly Protestant, the quintessential thanksgiving is Catholic – the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass. In Greek, the word for “thanksgiving” is “Eucharist”. Also, as Catholics, we should remember to be thankful not just on the one day each year that is designated as the holiday, but every day and always. St. Paul’s reminder to the Thessalonians pertains to us, as well: “In all things give thanks, for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all” (1 Thessalonains 5:18).
Each day, we should remember to give thanks for the many blessings and gifts God has given us:
- our life – the single most precious gift God gives. Each of us is alive because He thought of us individually, uniquely, personally, separately from every other one of His creatures…
- our health – a precious gift so easily lost and not so easily regained. So many among us suffer with chronic or debilitating or fatal illnesses….
- our home – for the warmth, comfort and safety of having a roof over our head. So many are homeless living on the streets without shelter…..
- our jobs – for the blessing of steady work by which we earn a living for ourselves and our families. So many are unable to find gainful employment or are physically unable to work….
- our family and friends – for the blessing of loved ones who stand by us and support us in good times and bad. So many are alone and often forgotten….
- our country – for its rich bounty and many freedoms that are not really “free” and should not be taken for granted. So many live in lands torn apart by strife and war and suffer persecution….
- our world – for the artistry with which God created the world, given as a gift to humankind, filled with all sort of wonders and beautiful companion creatures, all of which manifest His glory……
- for our faith to know Him – that in the teachings and wisdom Jesus handed down to His Church, we can follow the true path that leads to the joy of eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom…
In his Gospel, St. Luke tells us of the 10 lepers who encounter Jesus, call out to Him, “Jesus, master, have mercy on us.” Jesus heals all 10, but only one returns to thank Him.
“And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God. And he fell on his face before His feet, giving thanks: and this was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, ‘Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger.’ And he said to him: ‘Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole’” (Luke 17 :15-19).
So let us not be like the nine forgetful lepers, but rather live each of our days following the example of the one leper who returned to Jesus giving grateful thanks for the blessing he was given.
May God grant you and yours with a blessed Thanksgiving!