Once a year, the inhabitants of this great nation submerge themselves in the festival most characteristic of the American spirit: the celebration of a DAY OF THANKGIVING and, although with the passing of time it has been paganized and secularized so much that the celebratory events have been disconnected from any reference to the Transcendent One, for believers in Christ every expression of THANKSGIVING causes us to reflect on the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit, for we see ourselves as beloved sons and daughters of our compassionate and merciful Father. We recognize that from God comes “every perfect gift” (1 Cor 7,7) and that all that we are and have we have received “freely” from God and for that we must give him thanks (Mat 10,8). Therefore, the Eucharistic preface reminds us: “It is truly just and necessary, it is our debt and our salvation, to GIVE YOU THANKS, always and in every place, Lord…”.
Thus the DAY OF THANKSGIVING is not only the historical remembrance of an event that occurred between natives and colonizers, but especially the wisest, most honest, appropriate and unique posture that corresponds to the creature before the Creator and Son who is with the Father: GIVING THANKS.
In this way, human gratitude for God’s freely given favors becomes a permanent attitude of life, a life style, a way of being and acting in the world and not simply a question of annual rites without content or true gratitude.
In the economic frenzy of our society, in the daily push to accumulate power, pleasure and possessions, in the midst of the great political and social concerns that envelope us every day, it is a blessing that an annual date reminds us of how we need to recognize how much we are loved, how fortunate we are, how much we can share with gratitude.
In a hedonistic and consumer-oriented society, in a capitalistic economic society, we may falsely believe that everything we are and have we have achieved, thanks to the power of money provided by our work. But little by little life reveals to us another truth: there are values, truths, goods and favors in the human soul that cannot be purchased or sold; values and truths that are discovered in the deepest and most intimate essence of the human being that will always lead us to live with thankfulness, like the gift of life, liberty, beauty, solidarity, etc.
For that reason the DAY OF THANKSGIVING is a celebration and a commitment, since to be thankful requires all of us to create conditions in which everyone, without distinction, can live with gratitude. That is to say, to build a society in equity and justice, in solidarity and compassion, in truth, freedom and peace.
This year 2012, soon to end, we have had painful experiences in our personal, family and community history, in our life as a nation and in the whole world (warring conflicts, natural phenomena with loss of life, etc.), and yet, as those who trust in Christ we believe that, even in the most difficult experiences, with pain and great suffering, men and women can continue to be thankful for we can “continue to hope when hope is gone” (Rom 4,18) and because Christians understand that it is in the course of history (with the weaving of experiences of good and evil, among lights and shadows) that God makes himself known, in deed and word (DV 2).
I invite you then to find motives to be thankful; to build a society in which we can all continue to be thankful and expectant. Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!