Thanksgiving Day – 2021
We have special reasons for being Thankful at this Thanksgiving. We have successfully passed through the threat of the covid and we can rejoice in the fact that as a nation we have avoided the threat of losing our democratic form of government. As Christians we join together to celebrate, recalling the message of Isaiah: I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted to us”. And we all have SO much to be thankful for. We can be thankful for the fact that Jesus Christ has loved us to such an extent that He became flesh and died an excruciating death in order that we might live. We can be thankful for the many blessings He has bestowed on us, both material and spiritual blessings. We can be thankful even for those who may not still be with us this Thanksgiving. They are still closer with us than we can imagine, for they are one with us in Christ Jesus. And as the second reading from Paul tells us: “Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And be thankful”. We are thankful for the fact that God Himself has chosen us to be His very own adopted children through the primal gift of His Son Jesus Christ.
The gospel tells us of the ten lepers who were healed by the Lord, but only one who returned to give thanks. All too readily we tend to identify with this one. But in actual fact, in our daily lives, are we truly the one or are we rather the nine others who fail to give thanks? St. Paul tells us what true thankfulness entails: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, patience. And above all put on love”. The sole leper showed true love by eagerly returning to the Lord in a spirit of humble gratitude. He knew that he did not deserve this miracle, yet precisely because of this, he comes all the way back to give thanks to God. It is precisely his knowledge that he did not deserve the miracle which made him all the more grateful.
We are all deeply conscious of the fact that we have done absolutely nothing to deserve God’s merciful gifts. Yet this very fact makes us only all the more thankful. God chooses each one of us solely because he has first loved us. He has loved us each to the extent of taking on Himself our leprosy in order to cover us with the new flesh of His own divinity, making us truly one in Him in love. He shares this very flesh with us in this Eucharist which we celebrate now. He asks only that we continue to show our gratitude in the very ways that we relate to Him in one another.
True thanksgiving must be filled with a spirit of Eucharistia – thankfulness. Jesus has set the example of this in giving us the very Sacrament of the Eucharist at the very time that he was about to be given up to suffering and death. Even then he could cry out “I thank you, heavenly Father!” and that is what He wants us to cry out also in every circumstance of our lives.
Only then can we truly celebrate Thanksgiving not just as a single day of the year, but as the basis of our daily lives and ways of truly living with one another in a spirit of love and trust and faithfulness. Then when the day arrives when we return to the Father,
Jesus will be able to say: “Here are the other nine!!”