Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a day for us to give thanks. The word Eucharist comes for the Greek word, euchariston, “to give thanks.” Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we give thanks to God. Paul’s prayer in today’s second reading is also my prayer for all of you: “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…as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:3-9) God has bestowed on us the riches of His grace and His love. Thanksgiving tends to bring out the best in us, our love and compassion, as we share these “riches” with those who are hungry, thirsty, poor, naked, imprisoned, or homebound.
Last Sunday’s Gospel was the “Judgment of All Nations” (Matthew 25:31-46). In this Gospel, Jesus in a way talks about thankfulness. Thankfulness, Jesus teaches, is not only about giving thanks, glory and praise to God but also showing love and compassion to our neighbor, that is, anyone in need. Jesus does not ask us if we see the hungry, the thirsty, the poor, the immigrant, or the outcasts. The question Jesus asks is when we see the poor, the immigrant, the leper, the hungry, do we see Jesus: “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40).
In today’s Gospel it is the outsider who teaches us the true meaning of thanksgiving. Lepers in Jesus’ time were outcasts and outsiders who had to keep their distance and shout out: “Unclean, unclean.” The Samaritans were also outsiders for many Jews and viewed as apostates, heretics, and loathsome. Yet it was this double outsider, this Samaritan leper, who returns “glorifying God” and giving thanks (euchariston) to Jesus.
Like this Samaritan leper, let us glorify God and give thanks to Jesus for our family and home, our parish, our nation and the beauty and goodness of all creation.
I give thanks to God today for…