The Greek word that is the source for our word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving.” And since our Eucharistic Liturgy and our Thanksgiving celebrations as Americans both involve a very special community (or family) meal, it shouldn’t be a surprise if our thoughts today will have liturgy and our holiday celebration move in parallel.
“Blessing God” and finding joy and peace in God’s goodness to his people is the theme of the first reading from Sirach, and Paul’s “giving thanks” to God for people who live good lives while awaiting the revelation of the Lord is the theme of the second reading. As families gather on this special day, many share in one way or another with the poor, either collecting food or inviting them to share in our family table. Such sharing is a witness to our dependence upon God and upon each other.
In the gospel, we see the reaction of Jesus when one former leper, a Samaritan, is the only one of ten lepers to return and give thanks after Jesus cleanses them from their affliction. This might lead us to ask whether we really do thank God for his love, his protection, his mercy, his forgiveness each time we gather for Mass. Does our thanksgiving then overflow into goodness and mercy toward others? God bless you and your family on this special day!
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.