Thanksgiving Reflection: Faith and Gratitude
On Thanksgiving Day, we gather together as a parish and as a nation to thank God for all of the good He has done for us. Each of today’s readings speaks of gratitude to God. But, in order to be grateful to God, we must first have faith.
In the Gospel for Thanksgiving Day Mass, Jesus says to the healed leper, “go, your faith has saved you.” What is the faith that saved the leper? Scripture tells us that, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The leper hoped to be healed and believed that Jesus could do it. And Jesus, seeing the leper’s faith, did, in fact, heal him.
“But what if the leper believed, and Jesus still did not heal him?” you might ask. Faith tells us that perhaps it was not God’s will to heal the leper because God knew that it would not be in his best interest, which is always the salvation of his soul. In this way, faith is the virtue that helps us to see our life as God sees it, and not as we want it to be. One thing we know for certain: God loves us and always wants the very best for us. When we see our life as God sees it, then we will begin to discover that everything happens is for our good. So, whether we experience success, joy, problems, conflicts, or difficulties, we can be sure that, from God’s point of view, these experiences are for some greater good purpose.
If we believe that God truly loves us and guides everything in His eternal wisdom and love, then how can we help but be grateful for everything that happens? Gratitude means being thankful. When we are grateful we count our blessings; notice simple pleasures; and acknowledge everything that we receive from God. It means learning to live our lives as if everything were a miracle, which it is. Gratitude also shifts our focus away from what we lack, to the abundance that is already present. Once we become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, we will find that we appreciate everything we have taken for granted, whether it be our immortal souls, the ability to walk, the (imperfect) love of our family members, and the sacrifices that our ancestors made. Giving thanks makes us happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress. Who would have imagined that being grateful has such wonderful benefits?
My brothers and sisters, God calls us to a life of faith and gratitude. St. Therese of Lisieux commented once in a letter to her sister Celine: “What most draws down graces from our dear Lord is gratitude, for if we thank Him for a gift, He is touched and hurries to give us ten more. And if we thank Him again with the same sincerity, what an incalculable multiplication of graces!” On this Thanksgiving Day, I would like to invite you, my dear friends, to ask Jesus for the gift of faith and gratitude, so that your lives may be filled with God’s grace, peace, joy, and love. I wish all of you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving and reassure you of my prayers. May God bless and keep you and your families.
Yours in Christ,
Readings for Thanksgiving: Lectionary: 943-947
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