Thanksgiving

  Are we not all blind? Sure we may be able to see on a surface level, but how often do we recognize what is below the surface? How easy is it for us to fall in love with the gift and forget about the giver, see the beauty of art and never contemplate the artist, or even accept and love ourselves but not see the reflection of the One from whom we came.

     As American’s, I think we so often view ourselves as achievers, when in reality we are primarily receivers. Sure, we accomplish a lot, but if we look below the surface we quickly realize that there is nothing that we truly accomplish on our own. We all started out as nothing. We did not ask to be and we did nothing to get here. Our very existence is a gift of God. What are we anyway but conglomerations of God’s gifts? What do we have that we did not received? When we look below the surface we see that every blessing in our lives ultimately traces itself back to God. Thus, our most basic relationship with God therefore should be one of gratitude.

     Today’s celebration of Thanksgiving gives us pause to remember that the attitude of gratitude must always be central to who we are. Gratitude doesn’t always come easily for ultimately gratitude is an act of love and since “love does not exist in words or feelings but in deeds,”[1] love always takes work. Since “true love by its nature is uncompromising; it is the freeing of self from selfishness and egotism”[2] this gratitude we are called to, demands that we extend ourselves and remember where the gift came from. It demands that that we go out of our way to acknowledge that, like the one cured leper in today’s Gospel, we must return back to Jesus and give thanks.

     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. 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 ask Him to cure our blindness so that we can see beyond the surface and recognize that everything in our life is ultimately a gift. We need to ask Him to show us that everything that happens in our lives, regardless of how good or bad they may seem, are His gifts to us which are designed to help us grow in holiness and become saints. 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.”[3]

[1] St. Faustina Kowalska . Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Stockbridge:Marian Press. (2011) Pg. 175.

[2] Fulton Sheen. The World’s First Love Mary, Mother of God. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. Pg. 29.

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

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