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Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23, 2023


As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”


Reflection

In today's Gospel reading, Jesus is met with ten lepers who were calling out to him begging to be healed....

“And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

These ten persons were doomed with this disease. This was now their life, they were cast aside and would die. However, they did not give up, they wanted to live and had hope and faith in Jesus. They cried out to him and He listened. Jesus mercifully answered the ten lepers pleas and healed them. However, how did they respond? While it does not say exactly what the other nine were doing, the Gospel makes it clear that there was only one to return and give thanks. I think this Gospel serves as a good reminder to do just that. When something good happens in our lives or when we have escaped a dangerous situation is it not natural to exclaim, Thank God! In Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says:

"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."


Today we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States of America. I looked up the origins of our Thanksgiving Holiday and learned that we actually have a Holiday because Sarah Hale (the author of Mary Had A Little Lamb) tirelessly wrote letters to congressmen and even to the president petitioning a day of thanks for the Nation.

Yes, the pilgrims and Wampanoag did celebrate the first Thanksgiving in 1621, but it was not a "Holiday". Sarah Hale's letters were finally answered in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln when he "entreated all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

I also learned that it was not unheard of for political leaders to call for days of Religious fasting to "give thanks".

"Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. "(Thanksgiving 2023, By: History.com editors updated: November 16, 2023 | Original: October 27 , 2009) After reading about the the origins of Thanksgiving it became very clear that we as a Nation do not have the same Religious focus of "thanking God". Even Abraham Lincoln called for people to focus their prayer in praying for others and giving thanks. When did Thanksgiving become something other than a day to give Thanks to our God? I was talking with my husband and he had read something that informed the readers that the craziness of the Holidays begins with Thanksgiving. He mentioned how this is the busiest travel day of the year. Alaina commented on how ironic it is that Thanksgiving should be all about giving thanks, yet this holiday is a time of great stress and anxiety for many. It is all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of things, stressing over family gatherings, having everything perfectly decorated, cooking the perfect meal that we lose sight of what really matters. I think it is important in the midst of the chaos to take time out of our busy lives to give thanks. Being grateful for a family to gather together with, for decorations to hang, for food to eat, and people we love to celebrate with. This Thanksgiving I challenge you, if you haven't already, to take time today to share what you are thankful for.


With that being said why give thanks just on Thanksgiving?... We could be thanking God everyday just for waking up. How many times have we woken up and dreaded the day ahead of us, only focusing on the negatives? Or how many times have we prayed and only asked God for things we want? We have so much to be thankful for, yet we constantly are wanting for things we don't have, and comparing ourselves to others wishing our lives were more like theirs, never satisfied. Understandably we are going to wake up and have bad days, but why not find something to get excited about, or say a prayer of thanks for the beautiful sunny day ahead of you. And when we pray, why not tell God how grateful we are for what He has blessed us with. Blessings are everywhere you just have to be willing to look for them.


I leave you with this quote from St. Francis de Sales, "every one of us needs half an hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy- then we need an hour".








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