Saint Mary of the Angels homilies and reflections

Thanksgiving Day reflection. November 26, 2009. Sr. Sonia Saenz.

Thanksgiving Reflection.  November 26, 2009.  Sr. Sonia Saenz

( Sirach 50:22-24; Psalm 138; 1Corinthians 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19)

We come here together to give thanks to God, and that is what Eucharist means, to give thanks to God for bringing us in communion with him through Jesus Christ. Today’s readings lead us to fully appreciate this Thanksgiving Day!

For example, in the second reading St. Paul gives thanks to God, on our behalf, for the gift to us of his son Jesus Christ because through him we, as Christians, have received every spiritual gift. So, as Paul, we came today to offer prayers of gratitude to God.

We have to remember that Luke’s gospel was written for a cosmopolitan community, that means also for gentiles, revealing that God’s mercy and love are all-inclusive, that God’s generosity and greatness is the same with everyone. The Samaritan’s response of gratitude to Jesus challenged the status quo of those who perhaps being knowledgeable of the Law of Moses neither recognized nor appreciated God’s presence in their lives.  Instead the Samaritan leper readily recognized the power of Jesus and went back to thank him for being healed. As we can see, this man was not only healed physically, but also was filled with the grace of gratitude.

We do not have to go far to find the gifts that God has already placed in our lives. Just to mention a few of them, we just have to touch and feel our skin, be mindful of our breath, be mindful of our sight, look into the eyes of our loved ones, spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends, and community. As the healed man we can go back to thank God, by expressing sincere gratitude to all these people for being part of our life.

But a sense of frustration and anger can still arise in many of us who currently are facing struggles of any kind. Questions may emerge: How can I be grateful with God, how can I experience God’s love even in the midst of my struggles, uncertainties, sufferings, disappointments, losses, sickness, death, economical crisis, family crisis, unemployment and other difficult issues going on… Perhaps we can identify and sympathize with the other nine lepers in the Gospel. They were healed, too, but why they did not go back to thank Jesus as the Samaritan leper?  Were they not able to recognize the gift/healing from Jesus? Maybe they did not take the time to reflect in that experience or they were not ready to give thanks. How do we let pass the opportunities to say thank you to people whom we love, to people with whom we work, or with anyone who is part of our daily living?

This cloth that you see in front of you was made by a woman in a prison in Peru. She told me that while in prison, she learned to make handmade crafts to sustain her family with five children. She learned through pain that she was gifted with skills in her hands. She said that being in prison after all was a blessing from God, that after suffering much because her own bad choices, taught her to become responsible, courageous, confident in her potential to express her gifts and trust in God’s guidance and presence in her life. She was always blessed but she did could not see, but through this experience she was ready to receive God’s gifts. Hopefully this story can inspire us to even while in difficult situations we can respond to God with gratitude and trust in him.

Jesus was amazed by the gesture of the Samaritan who being on his knees was giving thanks to him, so Jesus tells him: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Jesus saw the deep faith of this man and his courage to believe and receive God’s love and compassion for him.  Jesus is also calling us through this gospel story to deeper faith and courage to embrace our challenges.

Can we also trust in this living God who created us and who knows our needs better than we do?  Can we approach God with the question, what do you want me to learn from this experience? Can we embrace everyday life with a grateful heart? As Meister Eckhart, a famous German Dominican monk and mystic wrote “If the only prayer we ever say in our lives is ‘Thank you,’ that will be enough.”


Blessings to each of you! Happy Thanksgiving Day!


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