Thanksgiving Day

Sir 50:22-24; Ps 138:1-5; 1Cor 1:3-9; Lk 17:11-19

The saints in every age teach us again and again that we become what we love.  If we love money, our life is reduced to the value of money; we live for what we can buy, rather than buy that we may live.  If we love the Eucharist, our life is thanksgiving.  This is the feast of all who become what they eat.  We who are thanksgiving celebrate our patron feast today.  Indeed, we don’t just go to Mass we celebrate who we are the body and blood of Jesus Christ, who alone offers a perfect sacrifice of praise because he is the great high priest and he is the paschal Lamb that he offers to the glory of the Father and in the Holy Spirit.  We give thanks with whole hearts today for the LORD has heard the words of our mouth, and in the presence of the angels we sing his praise.  Indeed, we worship at his holy temple.  We give thanks to His Name because of his kindness and his truth.  When we call, the LORD answers; he builds up strength within us.  Indeed, this is his most gracious response to our fervent petition; He gives us strength by giving us his Holy Spirit.  As Saint Luke proclaims elsewhere, “If you who are wicked fathers know how to give your sons good things when they ask, how much more will your heavenly Father give you the Holy Spirit, whenever you ask?”  Can there be any more perfect response to our prayer, even if we did not recognize our own petition?  Whenever we pray to Abba we are already filled with the Holy Spirit, who enables our every prayer, our every breath.  Every king and every ruler on the earth shall give thanks to the LORD when they hear the words from his mouth.  Indeed, they shall sing the ways of the LORD, “Great is the glory of the LORD!”  For this glory we give thanks, and we become that which we love.


What are those wondrous things that God has done on the earth?  He has taken a band of slaves out of Egypt and made them his chosen people, his holy nation. The LORD sent prophets among his people to summon them back to him in repentance and in love.  These prophets were rejected and some were killed, but this does not prevent the LORD from forgiving and seeking reconciliation with his people. Even after their rebellion and idolatry, even after they rejected his covenant with them and he sent them into captivity in Babylon, still he brought them home and renewed his covenant love for Israel.  We too, his holy people have seen such wondrous things in the sacraments.  We have had daily opportunities to enter into prayer and grow in his love.  The Eucharist has become the necessary food for the journey of faith.  This journey was begun in baptism, and at every moment of failure we have been welcomed home in reconciliation.  We have been strengthened by the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit to live a full and rich life of Christian witness, sharing in the cross of our Savior Jesus.  Some have been brought into marital intimacy with a loving spouse, and some have been called to celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.  Others have been ordained to preach and to celebrate the mysteries of Christ in his Body the Church.  When we need him the most the Lord Jesus has anointed us with the heal oil to raise us up from beds of pain and to send us on the final journey home.  Indeed the LORD has granted us great joy of heart and the blessing of peace has made us one in his love.  Indeed the favor and bounty of the LORD endures toward us the New Israel; we are delivered in our days.


What spiritual gift do we lack as we wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Nothing is lacking.  In all honesty, how many of us have this response?  What do we need that the LORD has not given?  We are brothers and sisters in the family of God.  We have begun to live in the intimacy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We have a home; we have an identity.  Grace and peace come from God the Father through his Holy Spirit and in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace to live and move and have our being, day in and day out.  Peace that surpasses understanding and remains no matter how much we suffer.  Indeed, we have been enriched in every way; we have received all discourse and all knowledge of the mysteries of the Lord Jesus so that we can witness with confidence to the Kingdom of God already present and yet, still to come fully in his glorious plan.  We abound in trust that the LORD will keep us firm to the end and irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This trust abides in our souls because the LORD is faithful, and he called us into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Even if we are unfaithful, he remains faithful.  He cannot deny himself, even if we deny our own dignity by sin.  His word of promise is sweet to our taste, sweeter than honey in the mouth.  He promises to forgive and to forget.  Indeed, the LORD casts our sins into the depths of the sea and as far away from us as the east is from the west.  As the prophet preaches, “Behold I make all things new!  Do you not perceive it?”  Indeed, the Lord Jesus forgives our sins and forgets our sins.  What joy and gladness abound in our hearts to remember that the Lord forgets, and that what he forgets ceases to exist.  Indeed, we remember our sins only to repent, yet again, so that the healing continues and the fire of his love fully consumes the dross and purifies the true gold of our hearts.


Why did the ten persons with leprosy obey the command of the Lord Jesus?  Were they waiting for just such a command?  Did they know that the law commanded anyone who was healed of leprosy had to be examined by the priests?   Perhaps they heard in the voice of the Master an authority they could not question.  Perhaps when he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests;” they knew that he had pity on them.  They knew that the Master had responded to their prayer, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”  It seems that all of them had the gift of faith, even the size of a mustard seed.  Though they had this great gift of faith, something was lacking.  What is that something?  Perhaps it is gratitude?  Do we come to Eucharist because of our faith?  Do we have thankful hearts as we enter into the Holy Mass?  Have we even given thanks for the gift of faith that brings us to the Table of the LORD again and again?  Only the outcast is willing to express his gratitude!  Only the rejected Samaritan is praised for his grateful return to give thanks to God! Without a thankful heart are we really at the Eucharist?  Do we even notice our own leprosy of sin?  Do we give thanks to God for the unconditional kindness of the Master who has pity on us again and again?  Do we hear him saying to us even now, “Stand up and go; your faith has salved you.”