Thursday, November 25, 2010

Homily for the Eve of the National Day of Thanksgiving


Luke 17:11-19; Philippians 4:6-20; Deuteronomy 8:1-10

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit.

Lift up your hearts. We lift them up unto the Lord.

Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God. It is meet and right so to do.

How often do we speak or chant those words to each other? Each and every Lord’s Day and on Feast Days throughout the Church’s Year of Grace. Eucharistasomen to kyrio. Let us give thanks unto the Lord. Let us give thanks.

Each and every time we gather together to receive the Lord’s blessings, we also return to Him thanksgiving. Not only on the fourth Thursday of each November, but each and every time we gather. The Lord gives and we receive. The Lord gives, and in receiving His gifts, we acknowledge Him to be the Lord. The Lord gives and we receive and we return to Him thanksgiving and praise. It is meet and right so to do.

It is truly meet right and salutary that we should at all times in all places give thanks unto you, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is meet and right, it is salutary, it is good for us to give thanks. When? – At all times, in all places. In times of joy and in times of sorrow, give thanks. In times of sickness and in times of health, give thanks. In times of lean and in times of plenty, give thanks. There is never a time, never a place, where thanksgiving is inappropriate or out of order. For God has given you the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, and that gift is forever, a gift that truly never stops giving.

Thus, St. Paul exhorts you “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” “And,” Paul promises you, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heats and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the only possible peace, and He is all the peace you need. For, the Lord knows what you need and He graciously provides you all that you need for your body and your soul. Even in times of want, sickness, and sorrow, the Lord continues to provide for you and keep you. For, your life is a spiritual pilgrimage, not unlike that of the children of Israel, a pilgrimage from captivity to sin, death, and the devil unto the promised land with God in heaven. And, as He did with the children of Israel, so He tests you to humble you and to see what is in your heart, whether you will keep His commandments or not, that you may know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. In the land to which He is bringing you there will be no hunger, nor thirst, no sickness, no sorrow, no death. But, even now, as you dwell in the midst of all these things, you can be content, for you, like Paul, have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need: I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

That one, the one who strengthens you, is Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior. He is the pure and holy gift of the Father, whose flesh is given as the true bread that gives true life and whose blood is given as true drink that a man may truly never thirst again. I can do all things through him who strengthens me, for He is my strength, He is my everything. Filled with Him I lack no thing and I am content.

Returning thanks and praise to God is meet, right, and salutary, for, it is an acknowledgment that He is God and that you are not. It is an acknowledgment that He is the giver of all needful things as well as the giver of the one thing needful. It is an acknowledgement that God is the Creator and provider of all things, to all people and creatures, at all times and in all places wholly apart from our deserving His gifts. Thus, returning thanks is a confession of our unworthiness of the gift and the grace and generosity of the giver. It is a public confession of the goodness, mercy, and grace of our loving God. And, recognizing that we have received all things from God in Jesus Christ, so do we confess our gratitude by readily sharing with others, especially those of the brotherhood of faith, all things.

To God alone be all glory, praise and thanksgiving, through + Jesus Christ, in His most Holy Spirit. Amen.

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