Thanksgiving Homily 2016

     Today, as our nation sets aside time to give thanks, we rightly begin our day by giving thanks to God. As Christians, this attitude of gratitude must be at the center of our lives. After all, the Bible reminds us hundreds of times that we need to give thanks to the Lord. Gratitude is not something that is optional for us it must be at the core of who we are.

     Living in a world of plenty amidst a world in need, in a nation of peace in a world at war, it can be easy for us to fall in love with the gifts we receive and completely forget about the givers of the gift. As successful Americans we like to think of ourselves as achievers, but the truth is we are primarily receivers, not achievers. Think about it, our very existence is a gift from God. Is there really anything that we have that we did not receive? The Bible, is a written history of the many great things God has given us; from the gift of creation to the promise of eternal life, and so as Christians living after the example set forth in the Bible our most basic relationship with God, must be one of gratitude.

     The most perfect act of thanksgiving that we can celebrate is right here at the Mass, where we unite our lives to Christ on the cross and offer ourselves as a sacrifice of praise to the Father and in return  receive our most perfect spiritual nourishment in the Eucharist. Friends, as Catholics we profess that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, but how often do we come back to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to say thank you? Are we like the 9 lepers in today’s Gospel who recognize that Jesus is the Lord but just go on with our lives, or are we like the 1 leper who recognized that Jesus was the Lord and returned to unite his heart more perfectly to Christ’s most Sacred Heart. If we want to truly consider ourselves Christians we must give thanks to God firstly for who He is, and secondly for what He has done for us.

     As we take time away from our busy schedules today to pause and recall all the gifts God has given us and come to this Eucharist to say thank you, we need to look beyond today and ask if our lives are a constant sacrifice of praise to God. We need to ask if we daily recognize what God is doing for us and give Him the thanks that He deserves. We need to recognize that everything that happens in our lives, regardless of how good or bad they may seem, are gifts from God which are designed to help us grow in holiness and become saints, so we must be thankful for whatever God deems to give us. Today’s celebration of Thanksgiving, then is a reminder that “gratitude should always be our first response for all the blessings in our lives. Our second response should be to live a life worthy of the blessing we have received.”[1]

[1] Matthew Kelly. Resisting Happiness. Erlanger: Beacon Publishing. (2016) pg 184.

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