"How can I repay the Lord for the great good he has done to me? I will raise the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord." Ps 116.12-13
At many Thanksgiving celebrations and in public service announcements during this time of year, I often hear the phrase "I am thankful for…" To me, this is like being in the presence of a person who has given up his kidney so that I might live, and saying I am thankful for having a kidney. Wouldn't it be normal and right to acknowledge from whom that kidney comes from? Wouldn't I want to shower that person with praise and appreciation? Thanksgiving, without an object, is really nothing more than bragging about a good circumstance.
As a Christian, I am called to give witness. And the first way I should give witness is my joyful acknowledgment and appreciation of all God's goodness to me. This is actually the central focus of our Sunday Mass or "Eucharist". Remember, "Eucharist" means thanksgiving in Greek. Thanksgiving is the best and purest motivation for striving to live as a disciple of Jesus.
On this Thanksgiving weekend, allow me to a share a prayer of gratitude with all of you.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for the gift of life and the new life You have given me in Jesus Christ. Through Your Son, You have raised me and my brothers and sisters in faith from created beings to Your beloved sons and daughters.
I thank You for allowing me to live in a land of relative security and plenty. Give me the grace to never forget that the overabundance You have given me comes with the responsibility of sharing what I have with those who have not. May I never forget my brothers and sisters in the margins, particularly those who have no voice - children, born and unborn, the sick and infirm, and those who live in this country and contribute to it without having a possibility of citizenship.
I thank You for the gift of my vocation as a priest. Through it, You allow me to use my gifts and talents so that I can make my way to heaven and help others on that journey. In the ministry You have ordained me, You have also allowed me to be a brother and father to your family of faith here at Holy Name of Jesus - St. Gregory the Great Parish.
I thank You, Lord for the clergy, staff, and all the people of this parish: for their goodness, their gifts and talents, and the patience and gracious welcome they have shown me. Their witness to Christ is a continual inspiration to me, and their support lifts me up in times of adversity. You have truly blessed me by allowing me to be part of this great parish.
I have too many other reasons to thank you, Lord, and I am entirely too unappreciative of Your goodness. Yet, I have faith that this simple act of thanksgiving is pleasing to You, because it comes from my heart. Continually send your Holy Spirit so that my heart always be filled with gratitude towards You, Heavenly Father. May this prayer of thanksgiving be united to the perfect sacrifice of your Son. Amen.