It’s Complicated was a 2009 movie starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin that chronicled a, well, complicated relationship. It was probably more than complicated. It was messy.
This week families and friends gather for Thanksgiving, a cherished holiday for many that seems destined to be subsumed into Christmas. But even this holiday is complicated, maybe even messy. It commemorates the gathering of the fruits of the earth and hopefully leads us to recognize how blessed we are. Yet it also conveys to Native Americans a time in history of being displaced. And when the holiday was established by President Abraham Lincoln, we were in the midst of a horrible civil war. It’s complicated.
We could say the same about today’s gospel predicting the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The selection from the Gospel of St. Luke points to messy times ahead: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” The rest of the chapter continues in like fashion until Jesus says, “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
Giving thanks this week is not about being grateful that everything has worked out so beautifully in life. It is a time of thanksgiving because the journey has not been perfect and yet we’ve made it through. Amid the struggles, the loss, the disappointments…the messiness…we still say “thanks.” It’s important to recognize that life is complicated, but that God’s love is far greater and is what draws us together and binds us together. We can all say “Amen” to that.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.