Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

(Sirach 50:22-24; I Corinthians 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19)

After Thanksgiving dinner the family invited its dinner guests to stand in a circle. Each person was asked to announce her or his reasons for being grateful to God. Most said that they were thankful for their families. The children of one family expressed heart-felt gratitude for their baby sister who seemed to have been born unexpectedly but who brought new joy to the household. The gospel today expresses how important such exercises of giving thanks are.

In the passage Jesus bestows salvation on the one healed leper who remembers the source of his blessing. As important as good health is, it is not the end and goal of life. Salvation, our eternal welfare, is. Jesus indicates that salvation comes as a gift from God when we give Him thanks. It should be added that such thanksgiving needs to be more than a one time or even annual affair. No, the thanksgiving that results in salvation is a way of life that finds expression not just in worship of God but also in service to others.

Our Thanksgiving customs, like most things today, have become unfortunately secularized. The day is associated more with eating turkey and watching football than with offering thanks to the Lord. We do well to institute a custom of giving thanks like the family in the illustration above. It will encourage everyone to count his or her blessings. It should also provoke service to the poor so that they too will have manifold reasons for giving thanks.