Thanksgiving Day (USA)
In our Gospel reading for Thanksgiving Day, we hear the account in Luke when Jesus cleansed ten lepers who begged Him to have pity on them. One of the ten came back to thank Jesus for what happened to him. Jesus asks, “Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner [the one who returned was a Samaritan] returned to give thanks to God?” Then Jesus says to the one who returned, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
When I reflect on this Gospel, I often think about the difference between the one who returned and the nine who did not. And what has come to me this year is that the gratitude shown by the one indicates perhaps an internal, as well as an external, cleansing.
If you think about it, living a truly thankful life can bring an inner peace. When I’m grateful, I tend less towards envy, or rejoicing in others’ setbacks (well, maybe except when the Yankees lose ☺). If I can be satisfied with what I have, I may not feel the need to steal or to cheat or to lie, or in extreme cases, to kill.
Gratitude is not more important than love, but being grateful is an indication that I can accept love, especially God’s love for me. And when I realize all that God has given me out of love; that all is a gift, I am free to be generous to others, especially to those who are in need of the basic necessities of life.
There is nothing we or anyone else can do to take away God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. May we be thankful always, and so be open to God’s healing grace and love. And may we give in return what we have been given. Thanks be to God!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.