Homily – Thanksgiving Day – 24 th November, 2022 Fr. Lawrence

Homily – Thanksgiving Day – 24 th November, 2022 Fr. Lawrence

Homily – Thanksgiving Day – 24 th November, 2022 Fr. Lawrence

Dear brothers and sisters – We could call today’s Gospel reading the tale of the
disobedient leper. Jesus’s instructions to the ten lepers were explicit – “Go show
yourselves to the priests.” Nine of the lepers followed Jesus’s orders, one did not.
Instead, he turned back to thank Jesus. He did not go to show himself to the priests. But
instead of rebuking him for not being able to follow a simple direction, Jesus praises the
disobedient leper, and by implication, criticizes the other nine. Clearly, Jesus prizes
gratitude over following orders.

In Psalm 49, God says, “I find no fault with your sacrifices / your offerings are
always before me.” So far so good, for Israel. But God continues, “For I own all the
beasts of the forest / . . . all that moves in the field belongs to me. / . . . Do you think I
eat the flesh of bulls / or drink the blood of goats?” And God adds, “Pay your sacrifice of
thanksgiving to God / and render him your votive offerings. / Call on me in the day of
distress. / I will free you and you shall honour me.” Now, the Old Testament spends
quite a lot of time specifying all sorts of sacrificial practices, which animals are to be
sacrificed for which purpose, how the sacrifice is to be done, exactly what the priests
must do, the steps which must be taken at every stage, and so on. And it’s important to
note that God, here in Psalm 49, does not entirely disparage sacrifices, he says, “I find
no fault with your sacrifices.” But clearly God prizes thanksgiving and votive offerings
over simply following orders.

But why? In both today’s Gospel and in Psalm 49, Jesus, the Son, and God, the
Father, prefer gratitude and thanksgiving to explicit orders. Of course I can’t give you an
airtight reason, no one, least of all your humble servant, can see into the mind of God.
But we might speculate that the difference between carrying out instructions and giving
thanks is in the personal relationship. It’s very easy to carry out our duties in the office
and at mass more or less blindly. I confess that I have often finished a psalm or even an
entire office and have not remembered a single line I have sung, antiphon, hymn, or
psalm. Theresa of Avila once said something like, it is very difficult to avoid distraction
at prayer, it is almost impossible while singing the psalms. So I‘m in good company. But
it shows the difference between asking for a need, for myself or others, or giving thanks,
to God or to other people, and simply following a routine. When the leper returned to
Jesus to give thanks, he was initiating a personal contact, he was fully aware of what he
was doing and why. When we give thanks to God, or ask for a personal favour, we are
invested in it – our attention is naturally focussed, our minds clear. It is this attention,
this personal connection, that God wants from us.

Someone once said, or maybe the saying sprang up spontaneously from the
internet, that we should have “an attitude of gratitude.” That sounds a little hokey, eh?
But if we look a little deeper, that saying might have more spiritual depth than we
realize. We can’t feel grateful to someone for something without feeling a personal
connection. We can’t be grateful and disinterested at the same time. We can’t give blind
thanksgiving like we can give blind obedience. Thanksgiving keeps us awake and

When I look around the monastery with grateful eyes, I see all sorts of things I
might otherwise miss. Somebody does my laundry, somebody cooks my meals,
somebody cleans up afterward, somebody keeps the lights on, somebody keeps the
place clean and relatively orderly, somebody pays the bills, somebody is there when I
feel sick, somebody is there to bury me. Sometimes that somebody is me or you, but
more often it is not. We walk around this monastery as if on a carpet which cushions our
steps, a beautiful carpet woven from the work that everyone who has come before us
and is here now has done for us. Seeing the world with grateful eyes also inspires us to
reciprocate, to be generous in turn, both in our work and in our day-to-day encounters
with brothers who may need a hand at something.

We might take some time on this Thanksgiving day just to sit and be grateful.
Grateful to our brothers past and present, grateful to those donors who have blessed
this monastery with their gifts, grateful to the customers who buy our products and keep
this place functioning with their generosity, grateful to God for our vocations and for the
many blessings we have received without even asking, and grateful to Christ for the gift
of his body and blood which we are about to receive at this altar.


Homilette – 25 th of November, 2022 – for deceased family, friends, and benefactors.

Dear brothers and sisters – Our readings today both concern the end times, the time
when this earth will pass away and a new heaven and a new earth will take its place. It
is possible that this may happen later today, or tomorrow, or sometime in the next few
months, but it is unlikely. Chances are that our world will come to an end through our
own deaths somewhat before the end of the entire universe. Some have said that the
entire monastic life is a preparation for death, and we see this demonstrated in the
edifying deaths we witness here, brothers who willingly embrace their coming deaths
with gentleness and quiet trust. May we also be prepared daily for our personal end-
times, so that we can have, as we pray for each day at compline, a peaceful death.