We offer praise and thanksgiving
In one of the homily helps that I have used over the years, I remember a story of searchers for sunken treasures having discovered a ship that contained many interesting and valuable items.
The one item that touched the divers’ hearts most deeply was a wedding ring that, after cleaning, revealed the following inscription: “I have nothing more to give you.”
What a beautiful sentiment for a spouse to offer his or her beloved in the lifelong commitment that marriage entails: I give you everything that I am, that I can be and I do so unconditionally.
These words may not have been literally spoken by Jesus as He gave His life to us and for us, but they certainly describe the reality of Jesus’ mission and the extent of His love.
“There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).
It is therefore not only appropriate, but actually necessary, to realize the magnificent wonder of His gift to us and to be extremely appreciative of His sacrifice for our sake. This, then, should be the first response in our celebration of this wonderful day we call Thanksgiving Day.
It is because of this tremendous gift of Jesus that we can enjoy life itself and can even enjoy it “to the fullest.” While this holiday is a specifically American celebration, nonetheless everyone throughout the world should offer praise and thanks to God for the gift of His son.
We do that every time we celebrate the Eucharist — the word itself means thanksgiving — but we are warned by both Jesus and St. Paul that we should be careful to come to the Lord in thanksgiving worthily, that is, having first done a few things.
First, we must make the effort to reconcile with brothers and sisters if there are walls existing between us.
Secondly, we must be keenly aware of the needs of our brothers and sisters who are suffering or struggling and be willing to offer comfort and assistance. Then, we are told that it is appropriate to enter into the great thanksgiving.
Here in the United States, we are especially blessed with so many of God’s gifts. We can worship freely, enjoy the ability to associate with whom we please, accept the challenges of working to have a decent life and to share it with our children, and to live reasonably healthy lives.
Even with the problems that we are experiencing in our contemporary American society, and they are many, we are indeed given better opportunities than most of the citizens of the world — that is why so many desire to come to the United States, even though the sacrifices of the immigrants in some cases are plentiful.
Certainly my parents, and probably most of your parents and/or grandparents, came here for precisely these reasons, and many times found life very difficult. Yet there was always the need and desire to be grateful.
So let us, on this special day, count our many blessings; let us not focus on our difficulties, but rejoice in the beauty of God’s love for us.
Let us give thanks for our country with all its blemishes and imperfections, but with all its goodness as well.
Let us be aware of the needs of the poor, the lonely, the grieving and the neglected and may our hearts be open with generosity and love.
Let us most especially enter into a dialogue of thanksgiving and praise with the God who gives us so much.
A blessed Thanksgiving Day to all.
+Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone
Bishop, Diocese of Charleston