Luke 17: 11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Today we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving in the United States, a time to give thanks to God for the many material and spiritual blessings we have received. Today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach reads in part:
And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth.
May he grant you joy of heart, and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us all our days.
Time spent with loved ones on holidays has the potential to bring out the best and worst in us. Our parents, siblings, and extended family are the people who have formed us over the years. We owe them for much of who we are and what we believe. These same people know our weak spots, they know just how to ‘push our buttons,’ and they can irritate us more easily than any stranger or coworker. We are most easily loved and hurt by those closest to us.
Consider the people with whom you will spend Thanksgiving today. Are there petty quibbles, past hurts, or mistrust in your heart that stand in the way of greater charity and love? Do the usual dynamics of your family foster trust, care, and mutual support? Or do the old ruts lead to sniping, criticism, and unsolicited advice on how to live one another’s lives?
Now consider the gift that these same people are in your life. A mother who taught you how to cook and bake as a child. A father who wanted nothing more than to talk football with you as a son. A sister whom you can share anything with, or a brother who helped you through a tough period in your marriage. A daughter who made you a proud grandfather. A thoughtful son who always calls you on your birthday.
Recall now that time with loved ones is limited in this life. Ask God which aspects of your family dynamics— the negative or the positive?—God would like you to hold onto today. Do the goods not outweigh the petty slights and lack if charity that keep us from living and loving as God calls us to? Are there old grudges or unforgiven past mistakes that weigh on your heart?
Let us pray today for two graces: First, for the magnanimity to remember that, in God, patient love quenches pettiness and the urge to correct, control, and critique others’ lives. Second, for gratitude for the loved ones with whom we spend this feast, especially those hard to love as we should.
—Joseph Simmons, S.J.
O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
Those who cry out for what we take for granted.