Thanksgiving Day Homily Podcast: Listen to Homily
Readings: Sir 50:22-24; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Lk 17:11-19
“Sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts, always thanking God the Father for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph 5:19) Those inspiring words from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians are the Entrance Antiphon in today’s Mass. The readings we hear today weave together a wonderful theme of thanksgiving and gratitude. The second reading sums up one of the best reflections on gratitude. “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way…” Paul is deeply aware of how God has blessed him in leading him to discover his faith in Christ and that is why he often pours out prayers of gratitude and exhorts his followers to do the same.
In the gospel, all ten lepers were cleaned but only one returned thanking Jesus and glorifying God. Luke deliberately uses two different words to draw a distinction between being cleansed and being healed. Cleansing refers to the physical cure of leprosy, while healing refers to being totally transformed – being saved. It is only when one deeply experiences healing that one is deeply touched by God’s mercy and able to thank God. That is why one of the lepers returns to thank Jesus. How grateful are you for all God’s blessings?
Thanksgiving Day is a special day when we pause to thank God for all the wonderful blessings we as Americans have received from God since the founding fathers of our nation. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln did a very unusual thing. In the midst of the darkest day in American history, in the midst of the Civil War which claimed more American lives than any other war, in the midst of great trial and tragedy, President Lincoln issued the following proclamation: “It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November (next) as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens.”
Here at St. John’s we have so much to be grateful to God and to one another. In this context I would like to express deepest gratitude for your commitment to stewardship as a way of life. Thank you for your time, talent and treasure. A letter of gratitude will soon be mailed to all parishioners who filled out commitment cards. Thanksgiving Day therefore is not just a secular holiday but deeply religious. The Holy Eucharist we celebrate today is an expression of thanksgiving for the many blessings poured upon each family in our great nation. Shortly we will enter into the center of our prayer of thanksgiving – the Eucharistic Prayer when the presider says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God” and the congregation responds, “It is right and just.” Then the presider will continue, “It is truly right and just…always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father, most holy…” May this celebration today and always express our gratitude to God for so many blessings. Happy Thanksgiving Day and may peace abide in your homes.
©2017 John S. Mbinda