November 24, 2011 - Thanksgiving Day

Today's Readings

How blessed are we to gather as a country each year and give thanks. This holiday transcends any political sentiments or particular religious belief, but, at the same time, it is central to all true religion. To give thanks is to acknowledge the existence of a Creator whom we can thank. We do not merely celebrate how much we have today; we celebrate how much we have been given. Given by whom? By the Creator of all.

Thanksgiving is the most important feast in the Catholic Church. It is more important than Christmas and more important than Easter. This is revealed to us if we say that word, “thanksgiving”, in Greek. The word is “Eucharist”. Every Sunday, indeed every day of the week, we gather in this Church and give thanks. On Christmas and Easter and every other feast day, we gather in the Church and celebrate the Eucharist; we celebrate Thanksgiving. Though our country celebrates Thanksgiving once a year, we celebrate it without end.

What is God looking for from us except thanks? Imagine how proud a parent is the first time they hear their child say, “Thank you, Mommy” or “Thank you, Daddy”. It is a sign that the child is maturing beyond the basic selfishness of infancy. It is impossible to be purely selfish and grateful at the same time. When we are perfectly grateful, we will be generous without fault. We cannot begrudge another what we ourselves received as gift.

To be perfectly grateful is to know our place in this world. We are creatures of God and loved by him. Everything we possess was a gift from God, even our own bodies and souls. Even our talents and abilities are reasons not for pride but for thankfulness.

There is no prayer more appropriate for us creatures. Prayers of petition are important, and prayers of praise are proper, but in the prayer of thanksgiving all the rest are summed up. When we give thanks to God we admit the truth: we are dependent on him. We can thank God for every gift he has given us. We can thank God for every struggle that he has not put in our way. We can thank God for the strength to endure the struggles that do confront us. We can thank God for his great glory. We thank God for everything; without him there would be nothing.