Thanksgiving Day, 26 November, 2020: Sirach 50:22-24; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19
We’re concluding a difficult year fraught with racism, contested elections, rampant conspiracy theories, Church scandals, tropical storms, uncontained wild fires, a pandemic—topped by the narcissism, denial and immaturity of our national culture. Now, of all times, it is crucial not to forget gratitude to keep our experience in perspective, rather than unbalanced by anxiety, discouragement or deepening divisions.
Some of us remember Sr. Lynn Levo, from Saint Luke’s Institute, who was a guest speaker here. She had recommended at the end of the day, recalling five things to be grateful for, peculiar to that day.
I can remember at the end of a day, when everything seemed to have gone wrong and I could do nothing right, following her advice. Without any effort—to my surprise—I recognized a dozen happenings for which to be grateful. The day had not been what it felt like. There was a larger picture than my impressions and God was at work in all that had unfolded. My discouragement had disabled me.
Gratitude, which is not gratification, can correct distorted vision. Eucharist means “thanksgiving,” that is to say “gratitude.” Eucharist celebrates the entire trajectory of the Lord from a last supper of a crumbling fellowship, through the betrayal, arrest, abandonment, interrogation, torture, humiliation, execution—and resurrection of Jesus. If I fail to see the whole picture, I could miss the entire point and just give up the struggle.
Gratitude will not eliminate my troubles, but don’t we mature only by engaging our troubles? Gratitude never divides but opens the door to communion.