Thanksgiving Day – Eve Mass

I King 8:55-61         I Cor1:3-9                 Lk 1:39-55

Some years ago, Charles Schulz pictured Charlie Brown bringing out Snoopy’s dinner on Thanksgiving Day, but it was just his usual dog food in a bowl. So, Snoopy took one look at the dog food and said, “This isn’t fair. The rest of the world today is eating turkey with all the trimmings and all I get is dog food. Why? Because I’m a dog, so all I get is dog food?” He stood there and stared at his dog food for a moment, then he said, “I guess it could be worse. I could be a turkey.”

Tomorrow (Wednesday evening), we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day. Many will be busy cooking turkeys, making stuffing, baking pumpkin pies…. and watching football games. And that is fun stuff — it is important to get together with loved ones… But that is not what thanksgiving is really about — it’s not about food and fun… it is about giving thanks to the Lord, our God.

Most of you may know the story of how this day came into to be. I am still learning it. I must say thank you Mr. Google for helping me. It was the autumn of 1621. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, after a rich harvest, the men, women and children who had survived the first year in the New World gathered for a feast to offer thanks. One of the pilgrims wrote at the time: “By the goodness of God, we are so far from want.” These were people who lived their lives in wonder and hope, grateful for everything: the hard winds and deep snows…the frightening evenings and hopeful mornings …the long journey that had taken them to a new place. They knew how to express gratitude.

Gratitude doesn’t always come easily. We all know that generosity – the giving of a gift – means thinking more about others than about yourself. It represents an act of love. But so does being thankful. To give thanks is to extend yourself. It is to remember where the gift came from. It is to go out of your way to acknowledge that — like Mary our heavenly Mother did: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” There is love in that. A love for the gift – and for the one who gave it.

You will see so many McDonalds: “Open 24 hours on Thanksgiving Day.” For a lot of Americans, that will be the place for feasting. That will be their holiday. It won’t involve turkey and pumpkin pie. It will be a hamburger and a milkshake. But Thanksgiving isn’t about giving thanks for having a lot. It’s about giving thanks for just having. For being. For knowing that whatever we have, whether it is served on a china plate or some other, it is all a gift.

And all of us, no matter where we find ourselves praying, will be bound together by one simple word: grace.  At a few McDonald’s this Thanksgiving, I’m sure that grace will be said. The grace of thanking God for whatever gift He gives. And in the giving, and in the receiving, and in the thanking, there is something that transcends time and place. There is love. Love for what we have, and love for what we have been given. And love for the God who gives it. Because no matter how fierce the winds, or how unforgiving the storm, at least on this day we all remember that God is near.

 During this Mass we join together with St. Paul in giving thanks to God not only for our material food but also for the spiritual food God gives us through his Son Jesus: “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Quote from the 1st Proclamation of a national day of Thanksgiving, Oct. 3, 1789. ‘Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, humbly implore his protection and favor…”