Thanksgiving Day (USA)
In our Gospel reading for Thanksgiving Day, ten lepers approach Jesus, at a distance, as He is traveling through Samaria and Galilee on His way to Jerusalem. Jesus hears their plea for help, and tells them to show themselves to the priests. On their way, they are cleansed, and one of them comes back, “glorifying God in a loud voice.” This man was a Samaritan. Jesus then replies, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then Jesus says to the one who returned, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Where were the other nine? If we think about what it meant to be a leper, maybe their actions may be a little better understood. To be a leper meant that you were an outcast. You couldn’t be with your family or at work or at the synagogue. Then this miracle happens, and you get your old life back, and it’s all you can think about, and you forget to thank God. For me, what is different about the one who came back to give thanks, is that he realized that he got more than just his old life back. He was given the gift of seeing God’s love at work in a dramatic way. His life was actually changed.
We may not have our lives changed in such a dramatic way, but we can always give thanks. Having an “attitude of gratitude” puts us in a better relationship with God and with each other. In our first reading from Sirach, the author writes, “May he [God] grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you.” Giving thanks and letting go of envy can lead us to joy of heart and peace among us. May we marvel at the generosity of God, and give thanks.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior of the Passionist Community in Birmingham, Alabama.