This homily is dedicated to Virginia Kelly, a resident of Villa St. Benedict, who died on All Saints Day, 2014. When I spoke the main theme of this homily five years ago, Virginia remarked, “I am going to do just that!”
So, once upon a time, Mr. Turkey writes a letter to God. “Dear God, I’m writing about some concerns I have as a turkey. It seems that in your infinite wisdom, you decided to make us turkeys fat, flightless , and evident delicious. Did we say something to get you mad? Write soon, the day is almost upon us. Sincerely yours, Mr. Turkey.”
Not to be trite, but God creates us not so that we can stand and stare in the mirror to be admired. God creates us for divine love. And, if all is grace, should we not still give thanks in the good times and in the bad times?
We find tons of examples of thanksgiving in the scriptures. It begins with thanking God in prayer. Solomon builds the first temple and spends much of the celebration in prayer. He thanks God for wisdom and in his prayer he points out to the people the many ways God has done marvelous things in their midst.
Thanksgiving also begins by realizing what has God done in my life. As he walks away looking for a healing, a leper looks up and down his body and realizes that Jesus healed him. He stops, turns, and returns to the Lord. He falls at his feet and says, “Thank you.”
But if everything is grace, why don’t I feel so grace-filled? If God is the giver of good things, why do bad things happen? We all ask these same questions. But how we approach the questions is important. I suggest that we put on an attitude of “thanks-thinking.” Thanksgiving Day requires a prayerful way of thinking – a thinking that requires both memory and perspective. St. Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians thanking God for their exuberance of the faith. But then immediately he calls them to task for their factions. He keeps reminding them to have a right mind and a right heart.
So, when a crisis hits, when the chips are down, when life goes sour, when the sun does not shine, when all seems gray and not bright, the grace of God inspires us to redeem it with “Thanks Thinking.” It is easy for me to say this since I live in Du Page County, Illinois, in a very affluent area. So, my thoughts and prayers today are with the people of Ferguson, Missouri. This day ought to be a holiday for them with friends and family. Instead there are gray clouds of suspicion, mistrust, violence and chaos. So, this mass and our prayers today should be directed to God to ask him to teach us Americans how to confront racial divides in our country. And when we learn our lessons, maybe then we can all be “Thanks Thinking.” Amen.
Fr. Becket, O.S.B.
Thanksgiving Day in the United States of AMerica