As our year comes to an end we are given this opportunity to pause and take some time to give thanks. It has been a great year! Despite some of the bumps in the road that might be present we do have a lot to be thankful for. While there are some individuals struggling in our midst to put food on the table, to pay bills on time, or simply trying to find some time during the day to balance schedules we are truly a blest nation.
While we trace our celebration of thanksgiving back to the time of the pilgrims this idea of celebrating Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November was established under the presidency of President Abraham Lincoln. Prior to his tenure thanksgiving was celebrated in each state at different times and we know from history that during his presidency our country was torn in two by a civil war. People in his day faced hard times just like many people today experience it and in some ways we are a divided nation. President Lincoln believed by setting a set day for the celebration of thanksgiving it would bring our nation closer together. He established it as “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Interestingly those early leaders of our nation recognized the importance of giving thanks to God.
Brothers and sisters thanksgiving day is in danger. The danger this day faces is the danger of just becoming another secular holiday. That is why at the Masses in which I celebrated this past weekend I offered the invitation for you to come to Mass today to celebrate this holiday keeping in mind the purpose of the holiday. While not a Holy Day or a Holy Day of Obligation we must take time to thank the one who makes everything possible. Thanksgiving cannot become just another secular holiday.
Today many of you will be gathering with family and friends and as you gather around the dinning room table you might perhaps be sharing with one another those things that you are thankful for, however, today I challenge you to never forget who ultimately gave you those things. Keep the Lord in the center. Although times for many are tough we are truly a blest nation. Let us give thanks for our family and friends, the food on the table, the roof over heads, and let us give thanks to those who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to allow us the opportunity to celebrate great holidays like thanksgiving day. If you get a chance make sure you take the opportunity to say “thank you” to those in the health care and service industry who are working today. Yes times are indeed tough, but do not forget to thank God, a God who promised and does remain with us. Today’s Gospel paints a chilling picture of the challenge we are faced with today, ten lepers were cleansed but only one returned. We are in danger of becoming increasingly an ungrateful nation. Once again I want to drive home the point for all of us here to not forget to give thanks to God for the gifts He has given us. Remember to say “thank you” also to those who help or serve us in any way because don’t forget God dwells in all of us for we are created in His image and likeness. Be grateful!
Thanksgiving, while a national holiday provides us as a people of faith a great opportunity to rediscover what is important to us. It brings families together and as I have repeatedly mentioned the family is the backbone the very core of our society. So whenever we can gather with our families it is always beneficial. Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to be grateful for the things that we have in our lives. Finally, thanksgiving as I have mentioned repeatedly this morning gives us an opportunity to give thanks to Almighty God for those many gifts we have all been given. As we leave here today may we praise the name of the Lord forever for all that He has done for us!!!