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Thanksgiving Day – November 25rd
Readings: Sir 50:22-24; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Lk 17:11-19.
1/ Reading I: RSV Sirach 50:22 And now bless the God of all, who in every way does great things; who exalts our days from birth, and deals with us according to his mercy. 23 May he give us gladness of heart, and grant that peace may be in our days in Israel, as in the days of old. 24 May he entrust to us his mercy! And let him deliver us in our days!
2/ Reading II: RSV 1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge — 6 even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you — 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 17:11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.
I. THEME: Give thanks to God for His great love is without end.
The Americans’ ancestors left an invaluable inheritance for their descendants, that is: the Thanksgiving Day. Giving thanks to God is our duty because all of us received His grace during the recent year: graces for our soul and body; for individual, family, community, nation and the Church. When we receive grace, the least we can do is to say thank; then we look for an opportunity to return favors. Three things we need to do on the Thanksgiving Day are to pray, to attend a thanksgiving Mass and to live in gratitude with those in our family and the ones in need.
Today readings help us with many things to reflect on the Thanksgiving Day. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Sirach taught us three things: First of all, we must give thanks to God for all the things He did for us in the past. Next, he taught us to ask God to grant us joy and peace in the present time. Lastly, he taught us to ask God to keep us from falling into temptations and to deliver us from all evil things in the future. In the second reading, St. Paul raises our mind to Christ, the source of all grace and peace. He revealed to us many divine mysteries; without him, we can’t fathom them. He also supports us to be faithful to God through the grace which he established through His passion, death and resurrection. In the Gospel, Jesus opens our eyes to see the ingratitude of most of humankind through his healing of the ten lepers. Even though he healed all ten lepers, but only one returned to thank him, and he was the Samaritan, a Gentile! How pitiful and ungrateful! To the point that Jesus had to cry out, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
1/ Reading I: Let us now bless the God of all, who in every way does great things.
1.1/ Thank God for all things He bestowed on us: As human beings, we were surrounded by countless of God’s grace. Among these graces, there were great things which God did for all humankind. For examples, God created all things and let people co-operate with Him to control the world; God gave us His Only Son to die and to take away people’s sins and to bring for them the eternal life; God established the Church to remain, to teach and to protect people. There were also graces which God has done for each individual. For examples, God let each one to exist, to be His child, to predestine for eternal life, to support with all kinds of graces and to protect all the days he/she lives in the world.
1.2/ Ask God to grant us joy, peace and happiness: Though He surrounds people with such graces, but people can still be sad and unhappy because they don’t know how to use God’s given graces and freedom. Therefore, people need to ask God to enlighten their mind to choose things that lead to joy, peace and happiness; not those that lead to unrest, suffering and sadness.
1.3/ Ask God to protect us from falling into temptation and to deliver us from all evil things: People need to realize about the presence of the three enemies in their life which are: the devil, the world and their own body. All these three enemies are stronger and can lead them to fall into their temptations. Therefore, people need to ask God to give them wisdom to recognize the dangers of the temptations and the strength to fight against them so that they shall not fall into temptations and endure terrible results in the future.
2/ Reading II: The necessary of Christ’s presence in our life
The history of salvation was turned to the new page after the exile. God sent His Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to incarnate in order to save the sinful world. If in the Old Testament, people can’t live without God’s presence, then in the New Testament, people can’t live without Christ’s presence due to the three following reasons:
2.1/ Christ is the origin of grace and peace: St. Paul prayed for the Corinthian faithful: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus.” Through Christ’s Passion and Death, he brought peace and many graces for human beings. People have peace because through Christ, people are reconciled with God and others. Christ is also the origin of grace for men, especially through the seven sacraments.
2.2/ Christ has revealed God’s wisdom to his people: “that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge — even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you — so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If Christ didn’t reveal, people couldn’t understand God’s mystery of Incarnation and many other mysteries in the Church.
2.3/ Christ helps people to be loyal to the end: “He who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” By clearly understanding of God’s plan of salvation through the Gospel and were supported by Christ’s grace, people can overcome all sufferings and difficulties in life to be loyal to God. Beside, people also know how to prepare all necessary things to present them before God’s judgment court.
3/ Gospel: “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
3.1/ One must recognize a favor before giving thanks: As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” Some laws concerned about the lepers are written in the Book of Levites and Numbers:
(1) The terrible fate of a leper: Since the Jews pay a special attention to purity, the lepers can’t live with people, but must live outside of the camp (Lev 13:46, Num 5:2). They can’t make a direct contact with the healthy, but must cry out loudly “Unclean! Unclean!” every time when the healthy come close to them so that they know of their presence to avoid (Lev 13:45).
(2) To show that they have been cured from leper, they must be examined by the priests: When the priest declares they are clean, they can live a normal life with people in the camp (Lev 14:2-3). This is the reason why Jesus told them, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed.
3.2/ Those outside are easy to recognize favors than those inside.
(1) The Samaritan’s gratitude: “And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
(2) The Jews want nothing to do with the Samaritans: One strange thing in this passage is the nine Jews let the Samaritan live with them because that shall never happen when they are healthy. This shows that when people are suffered and discriminated, they tend to unite and to live with others.
(3) Why are the Samaritans often mentioned in the Gospel as the more grateful? The Samaritans, though were despised by the Jews, but many time were praised by Jesus: In the Good Samaritan’s story, Jesus intentionally praised the Samaritan than the priest and the Levite because he showed compassion for the unfortunate. He let him ride his donkey, cared for him at the motel, and promised to pay back the amount for the motel’s owner for caring of him (Lk 10:30-37). After the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, she became Jesus’ first missionary when she joyfully and eagerly announced what Jesus has done for her (Jn 4:39-41). These examples show the Gentiles can be more grateful than the Jews, God’s chosen ones.
(4) To give thanks is to deservedly receive more favors: “Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”” The Samaritan leper was not only healed from his sickness, but also received salvation because of his faith in Jesus while the other nine Jews were only healed from their leper.
3.3/ Why are people ungrateful? There are many reasons: First, because people don’t reflect; they don’t think about the reason why they receive favors. Secondly, they suppose everyone must help them: God must give grace; parents must care for their children; teacher must teach their students. Lastly, they are afraid that they must return their favors if they acknowledge them. There are three kinds of person whom people are ungrateful to:
(1) God: Who creates, protects and unceasingly gives grace for them. Thanksgiving Day is the occasion for people to recognize God’s grace and to thank Him for that by participating on a Mass and helping the unfortunate. How many people do these? Instead, they organize party to enjoy as if the success is from their own effort.
(2) Their parents: who conceived, cared for, protected and educated them most of their life. They should take care of their parents when they are no longer caring for themselves. Instead, they put them in the nursing home and said to themselves, “the government shall take care of them better than us.”
(3) Others: who spent all of their life to research, to build up and to invent all the conveniences of life which they are enjoying. They forget that their duty is to continue to make a better world for the next generation, not only to selfishly enjoy them.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Thanksgiving is the day we should use to thank God, not the day to party, to watch football or to shop all day long. We need to be cautious so that we shall not fall into the temptations of the devil and the merchants.
– To thank God, we need to do three things: praying to express our gratitude for Him; participation in the thanksgiving Mass to offer to Him the most precious offering, His Son’s blood; and living in gratitude by sharing love with our family and those in need.
– To say thanks is to be worthy for more favors. There are still more great favors God shall give for the gratitude. The ungrateful are the ones who dig a hole to bury themselves, who choose to be on the devil’s side.