Homily for Thanksgiving, November 22, 2018:
Sirach 50:22-24; Psalm 113:1-8; 1 Cor 1:3-9 and St. Luke 17:11-19
By Father Scott Karnik
We have much to be thankful for spiritually this Thanksgiving. The readings help us to see what we should thank God for this day and throughout the year.
First, may we thank God for this beautiful, holy, Sacrifice of the Mass. The Scripture commentary I studied for this homily says that we get the hymn Now Thank We All Our God from the first verse in today’s reading from Sirach. “Now thank we ALL our God” for this time together in prayer, praise, and worship of the God who loves us so much that He simply refuses to give up on us, each one of us. That’s something that should prompt all of us to come to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this morning.
Second, let us thank God for His Name. We know Him by name: Yahweh, Elohim, Jesus Christ, the Lord, etc. This incredible God who is so beautiful that He would not let Moses see His Face is accessible to us by name. The author of Psalm 113 encourages worshipers to praise the Lord’s divine name. It is to be especially praised in Temple liturgical services and everywhere we go. He is there. God is a judge. But God does not judge like we do. God judges by correcting wrongs and relieving the poor. This psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving sung in the Temple.
St. Paul greets his Corinthian Christians with “grace” and “peace.” These are Messianic blessings bestowed in Jesus Christ. To “bestow” means “to present as a gift.” “Bestow” also means “to use” and “to apply.” St. Paul thanks God for the graces He has bestowed upon the Corinthian Christian church, a church he planted. St. Paul criticizes the Corinthians for their misuse of God’s graces. They have used them to divide, and not to nourish love. But St. Paul still gives thanks because he is confident that God will finish the good work already begun in them. He believes the Corinthian church will be strengthened and ultimately judged victorious.
And finally, the grateful Samaritan leper gave thanks to Jesus and glorified God after realizing his cure. The Samaritan attributes his healing to God and praises God. For the Samaritan, his praise and thanksgiving bring him one more thing: salvation, thorough wholeness, and a proper relationship with Jesus Christ.
There is one more important point in today’s gospel. St. Luke shows that God’s blessings extend beyond Israel. His blessings are universal. St. Luke attacks the unjustifiable confidence of the Jews. The Jewish lepers received their cures as a matter of course. They’re Jewish and their messianic blessings are theirs by birthright. They are entitled. The Samaritan leper is a contrast to them. He shows the right attitude. He shows faith. He is indifferent to his own merits and consequent gratitude (due to his merits). God intervened through Jesus Christ on his behalf even though he was a hated Samaritan foreigner. A Samaritan could not claim to share in the benefits of Israel, at all. He has no birthright. But he obeyed Jesus’s command as a matter of faith. His faith in Jesus saved him.
To come full circle, in each of these readings, we can see gratitude/thanksgiving expressed by coming somewhere to express it, to this church, to this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018. The author of Sirach wrote extensively about liturgy. The psalmist wrote this hymn of praise that was sung in the Jewish Temple during a liturgical service(s). St. Paul gives thanks to the Corinthian Christian church, which met and worshiped Jesus and praised Him at their Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And this Samaritan leper returned to Jesus to thank Him for the cure he received from God through Jesus. He came to Jesus just as we can and should during this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today. Thankfulness reflects God’s character. The more we practice thankfulness, the more we reflect God and unite with Him.
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