By Fr. Frank Timar, M.S.C.
Celebrating God’s generosity has a long history in our faith tradition. Jewish families celebrate the Passover meal every spring in memory of the way God rescued them from slavery in Egypt. We too are given a sacred meal to share at every Eucharist, a word which means “Thanksgiving,” to remember how Jesus died for us and rose from the dead to give us a share in His divine life. The great mystic Meister Eckhart wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’ it will be enough.” This saying of his reminds me that our entire lives are intended to be one continuous refrain of gratitude for gifts large and small, especially small because we tend to forget the small gifts we receive. The best way to give thanks for God’s goodness to us is to imitate the divine generosity. We need to remind ourselves often if not every day, that everything we have and everything we are is a gift.
Thanksgiving Day is a day for giving thanks as a nation for those who have gone before us and sacrificed so that we may live in freedom and prosperity. These gifts come with a responsibility to share not only our values, but also our wealth and our country itself with those who have less than we do. The Lord made that very clear when He commanded us to love not only one another, but even our enemies. On this special day, we make a deliberate and conscious effort to remember and to be grateful for the great gifts so generously poured out on each of us: life itself, family, friends and so many others, and grateful, as well, for the little, often forgotten gifts.
For more than a year, there’s been a lot of debate on the national level about who should and who should not be able to continue to live and earn a living in this country. The story of the first pilgrims to our great country reminds us that apart from our native American brothers and sisters, all our families came here at some point in history to seek a better life and to live in a country founded on respect for personal and religious freedoms. As we celebrate the rich history and diverse peoples who now call the United States home, may we open our hearts to all who would enrich this country with their unique gifts, cultures and traditions, in the same way others welcomed our ancestors.