Thanksgiving Mass ~ 24 November 2022 ~ Bible readings for Mass: I. Sirach 50: 22-24; Responsorial: Psalm 145; II: I Corinthians 1: 3-9; Gospel: Luke 17: 11-19

Thanksgiving Day is here! We gather and share our gratitude to God and for each other. We remember and share for and with those who struggle with hunger, for shelter, and safety. We realize that thanksgiving, while common to think about is often not as easy to realize and express. Even our gatherings of family and friends may be seasoned with undesired tensions, worries, and anxieties. Yet when brought all together would teach us this feast of thanksgiving is a complex meal of many ingredients and parts. It takes a commitment to prepare and share this feast. It takes an even greater commitment to prepare and share the path of thanksgiving.

Our celebration coincides with the old harvest festivals. The Autumn colors and brisk weather help us to be mindful of the beauty of creation and the power and graces of our Creator. As we lift our eyes to the colors of fall we, with the help of the angels, lift our hearts in praise to God, our Creator, and Redeemer. And as we share our gratitude this day we are reminded this is a path we are called to share every day, regardless of season or time. It is as we walk this day in the light of God’s Word we are shown this path.

Each day, as we take our steps of life we are to remember the path of thanksgiving is a path of our free will. None of us is ever forced to be grateful. The refrain from the beautiful psalm of gratitude (145) proclaims; “I WILL praise your name for ever, O Lord.” The Bible, the saints, and life as well, all powerfully teach us life is not always painless or without struggle. This reality brings us to our Gospel for today. We hear the account of the ten lepers who sought healing from their leprosy from our Lord. God indeed gave them their healing. Yet only one, a Samaritan returned and knelt at the feet of Christ to give thanks. Life can easily cause our focus to become fixed upon our afflictions, upon ourselves. Why the other lepers did not return in gratitude we are not told. We are only told of the one who exercised his free will and resolved to give thanks to Jesus. We are shown that whatever the season or the day that to choose to be grateful is our choice to make. For the leper, the day that began in suffering with no end in sight ended before Christ in praise.

This choice, this exercise of free will leads us to take steps of thanksgiving. Gratitude brings us to God. Praise and thanksgiving lead into the very Presence of our Savior, our Lord. There is a very real power in the steps, the path of thanksgiving. Just as there is a very deadly power in steps of ingratitude, grumbling, and complaint. One path leads to God and to life. The other brings us to doubt and despair. These holy steps of thankfulness bring us to a place of genuine and holy action, to be grateful.

Our steps of praise bring us to God. As we come into and grow in the holy awe of His Presence we are humbled, we are brought, like the leper, to our knees. And we cannot but be thankful. And, as our Gospel affirms, in that holy place of humble gratitude (the cross) our love for God, and our faith in our Lord are brought to greater freedom. It is there we learn how much for which we have to be thankful. For life. For the beauty of creation. For God’s Church. And for each other. And always, most especially for God. We may not always understand or feel as well, as hopeful, or as peaceful as we might. Our paths will not always be easy or painless. Great may be the courage we need to take our steps in faith. But when those steps are taken with a will to be thankful we will realize, whatever the day or season, God is with us.