Nov. 26, 2015: Thanksgiving Day
On this Thanksgiving Day, I imagine many of you will begin your meal with a prayer of grace. If you are personally asked to pray grace before meals, may I suggest the following simple children’s prayer?
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.
While people still have their heads bowed in prayer, consider adding the following intentions at your dinner:
We pray for healing for the families who have lost their loved ones in the Paris terrorism and we pray for serenity in the hearts of those who are anxious and fearful of future terrorism.
We pray for peace in the ongoing unrest and fighting in the Middle East.
We pray for those who have lost their loved ones and for those who are still grieving.
We pray for those families who are not able to afford a Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Today, as our country takes time out from its hectic pace, we stop to give thanks to God. It was the autumn of 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, after a rich harvest, the men, women and children who had survived the first year in the New World gathered for a feast to offer thanks.
One of the pilgrims wrote at the time: “By the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”
These were people who lived their lives in wonder and hope, grateful for everything: the hard winter and deep snows…the frightening evenings and hopeful mornings …the long journey that had taken them to a new place. They knew how to express gratitude.
Gratitude doesn’t always come easily. We all know that generosity – the giving of a gift – means thinking more about others than about yourself. Generosity represents an act of love, and so does being thankful. To give thanks is to extend yourself; to go out of your way to acknowledge the gift giver. Certainly the cured leper in today’s gospel demonstrated his gratitude by changing the direction he was headed, and walked back to Jesus, all the way back from the temple, to thank him.
For what are we thankful? How do we show our thanks even in difficult times--in the midst of tragedies in the world and tragedies in our lives. Long before Thanksgiving Day was established, Our Lord instituted Eucharist as a way for us to experience and recall the great sacrifice of Our Lord. The term Eucharist comes from a Greek word which means ‘thanksgiving’. The Eucharistic liturgy is always a call to return to the source of every gift, the God who gave Himself for us, the God who is always with us in the joys and sorrows of our lives.
So on this day when we pause from the busyness of our lives, set aside our differences, and gather around the table for a meal sharing stories and laughter, be sure to give thanks to those who cooked the delicious meal. Perhaps you can bless them with the following poem:
May the stuffing be tasty
May the turkey plump.
May the potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May the sweet potatoes be delicious
And the pies take the prize.
And may the Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off our thighs!
-Fr. Paul Yi