One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

November 23, 2006

For Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.A.

Luke 1:39-55
Sirach 50:22-24

On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we honor and thank those who gave us life.
For us citizens and Christians of the United States of America, our national Thanksgiving Day is a day to honor and thank our Father who is in heaven, God the Creator of heaven and earth, the Lord and Giver of life.
We heard the Book of Sirach today put it this way.
Bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
who fosters our growth from the womb.

Throughout the holy Gospels, whenever we have the privilege of witnessing Christ at prayer, we often hear him begin his prayer with the words, “Father, I thank you.”
The first thing that the Son of God teaches us to pray to his and our Father in heaven is, “Hallowed be thy Name.”
Thanksgiving Day is a kind of Father’s Day to honor and thank our Father who is in heaven.
However, let us bear well in mind that every Sunday is a day to honor and thank our Father.
Every holy Mass that we celebrate on any day of the year and for any occasion— every holy Mass is itself a Thanksgiving to the Father.
If we do not bear that in mind, then we are in danger of celebrating the holy Mass as a reinforcement of self-centeredness.
It is worship first of all and above all, and that is what saves us from our sin, self-centeredness and self-pity.
To be thankful, grateful, to live gratefully, with grateful intentions, grateful giving, grateful service, with grateful heart and mind— to live thankfully is simply and already living a life of grace.
“A life of grace”— full of grace: would that we all were full of grace like the Blessed Virgin Mary!
Today the holy Gospel itself testifies that her soul was a soul of graceful, gracious, grace-filled gratitude.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.

… the Almighty has done great things for me….

Here in southern California we all know how to say “thanks” in Spanish: ¡Gracias!
Even the English language calls grateful prayer before or after a meal, “saying grace.”
At holy Mass we join the Son of God in giving thanks to his Father.
At his Last Supper before he died, he took up wine and unleavened bread, and he gave thanks.
At his FIRST Supper after he rose from the dead, unrecognized at table by two Christians in Emmaus Village, he again took up bread and blessed God his Father.
If not in his voice, at least in his heart and mind, we can be sure the newly risen Son of God echoed his virgin mother’s song.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

the Almighty has done great things for me,
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

Christ giving thanks at Emmaus over simple bread, a staff of life, shows himself to be the ever-thankful Son of God.
Today as at every Mass, we gratefully bring to the altar of our Creator the fruits of the earth represented in bread and wine.
Bread and wine, however, are fruits of the earth that have been cultivated, harvested and refashioned by the work human hands, by the intelligence of the human mind and the desires of the human heart.
The earth is God’s handiwork, but bread and wine are the further work of humanity.
So, as we bring bread and wine to the altar of our Creator, we lay down upon his altar in gratitude also ourselves and our own humanity as gifts from God.
Then the will of the Father, the work of the Spirit, Christ himself and the obedience of the Church intervene, so that what we later take up from the altar is the Eucharist— the Greek word for “Thanksgiving”— the Thanksgiving of Christ in his Flesh and Blood.
The Son of God is eternal and perfect Thanksgiving in Person offering himself to his Father.
By eating, drinking and living Christ, he who is Thanksgiving to the Father is also Salvation for us.
Thanks be to God!

That God Be Glorified in All


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