Thanksgiving Day (USA)
Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9a
Thanksgiving Day – and the Attitude of Gratitude
Arcadia is a 1993 play by Tom Stoppard concerning the relationship between past and present, order and disorder, certainty and uncertainty. Character Valentine Coverly, a graduate student in mathematics, thunders with joy:
It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again,
and knowing almost nothing…
A door like this has cracked open
five or six times since we got up on our hind legs.
It’s the best possible time to be alive,
when almost everything you thought you knew
Maybe it is because we have a new Congress or governor, or a new pope… and here in Chicago we have a new archbishop!… but once again things seems upside down, or inside out. For many Christians today, while we may not find everything we thought we knew to be wrong, we are at least reassessing many suppositions about what we thought to be the norm. Yesterday, when Pope Francis celebrated the Rite of Canonization for six new saints, it is noteworthy that he restored the post-Conciliar rite of canonization that was abrogated several years ago when Pope Benedict "unreformed" the rite of Pope Paul VI, and re-introduced that of Pope Pius XII. What is more noteworthy, however, is in hearing the biographies, for each of the six had a special connection with the poor and the suffering.
On this Thanksgiving Day, could this be the reason Jesus again praises a Samaritan? Is Jesus accentuating the gratitude of this "foreigner" to teach us that the beginning of gratitude is an attitude, or disposition? To be a disciple, one must have the inclination toward learning, a willingness to be molded like clay, being informed and formed and transformed by Jesus.
For most of us this means our image of God must change – from triumphalism and power to vulnerability and self-emptying (kenosis). And if we are made to the image and likeness of God, if we are to "be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5), then we, too, must reassess.
In his homily for the canonization liturgy on the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis said, "Closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also. The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom." Ahh… to be at the beginning again!
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness. He is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.