We Give Thanks

Today we celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving. It is a secular holiday but the practice of giving thanks is very much in keeping with our faith. In fact, the word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving. We give thanks to God for what we celebrate in the Eucharist.

The origins of this national holiday go back to the early pilgrims. They left England seeking religious freedom. They could have lamented having to leave their homes there. They faced a very difficult journey across the ocean. They could have grumbled. They arrived in what would become Massachusetts late in the year. Food was scarce and they would not be able to plant seeds until spring. They could have grumbled. They could have lost their faith.

They worked hard. They kept their faith. When spring came, they planted. When fall came, they enjoyed the harvest. They did not forget God.

In the gospel used for Thanksgiving Day, we hear the story of the ten lepers who came to Jesus to be healed. He told them to go show themselves to the priest. This is something a leper was to do after they had been healed. They had not healed but they went as Jesus directed. In faith they were healed. Only one returned to give thanks to Jesus. I hope the others were thankful but perhaps they did not grasp the source of their healing. One did and he returned to give thanks to Jesus.

The pilgrims had faced great difficulty in their trip from England and in the early months after arriving in the colonies. When spring came, they worked hard as they planted and cared for their gardens. They were helped by the natives. They could have said they did all themselves. They could have focused their thanks on the natives who helped them. Certainly, they did work hard and they were right to thank the natives. In doing so, they could have lost side of God’s help. They did not. At the first Thanksgiving in the colonies, they gave thanks to God.

Do you give thanks to God?

It’s easy enough to remember to pray to ask God for help in difficult times. When your prayers are answered, do you see God’s hand in it? Do you give thanks to God?

Do you have an “attitude of gratitude”? Having gratitude doesn’t mean things always go well. Having an “attitude of gratitude” recognizes the blessings we have received and sustains us in faith through difficult times. It can change the way we look at things.

For instance, the last few days have been damp and dreary. We could complain. I know I have but we must remember that we need rain to survive. Maybe we don’t need this many rainy days but we can give thanks that we don’t have a drought. We pray for sunshine but we do so trusting in God.

When we, or a loved one, becomes seriously ill, we pray for God to help them. God is pleased that we ask for his help. However, if/when we, or our loved one, are healed, do we remember to give thanks to God?

Perhaps there is someone causing difficultly in your life. Do you pray for them? I stress “for them” because it would be easy to pray that they stop causing us difficulty. It can be harder to pray for their well-being when they cause us difficulty.

In the second reading used for Thanksgiving Day, Paul writes, “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus.” Later in his letters to the Corinthians Paul will correct them for their sins. However, first, he gives thanks to God for what God has given them. Do you thank God for people who cause you difficulty?

What do you have to be thankful for? Do you express your gratefulness to God? Do you thank others? Life is not always easy. We must take up our crosses to follow Jesus. We give thanks to God for his help in carrying our crosses.


Fr. Jeff

Leave a Comment