Thanksgiving Has Two Parts
There are two parts of thanksgiving, and I’m not referring to food and football. On this national civic holiday of Thanksgiving you will often hear people listing the things for which they are thankful. The first part of thanksgiving is knowing just what it is that we should be thankful for. This task can be harder than it seems these days. When you stop think about it, we’re a society that really has it all. Yet, just as Jesus warns time and again in the Scriptures, material wealth and “having it all” don’t lead to happiness, yet alone thanksgiving. Rather we seem to be a culture of complaining and dissatisfaction most of the time. Thanksgiving is therefore a great day to stop and smell the turkey before devouring it and remember just how fortunate we really are. There is much for which we should be thankful and that should be a cause of real joy.
However, having a lot to be thankful for is only the first part of thanksgiving. Even more important than knowing the things for which we should be thankful, we’ve got to know the one to whom we should be thankful. In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of ten lepers who are cured but that only one returns to give thanks to God. We might be tempted to think that the point is that only 1 out of 10 were thankful. I don’t think that is the case. To be cured of leprosy would have left all ten overjoyed and no doubt feeling very thankful. The difference between the one who returns and the other nine is not that one was more thankful than the others. Rather the one who returned knew not only what he should be thankful for, but to whom he needed to go to offer that thanks. He returned to to Jesus, to God, to express his gratitude.
On this great day of Thanksgiving, let us take time to to call to mind all the things we should be thankful for, our material prosperity, our freedom, our family and friends…even food and football. But let’s not forget the one to whom we owe all thanks and praise. The most important part of thanksgiving is knowing and thanking the God who gives us everything. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, today and every day.