The Gospel according to Luke (17:11-19)
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, as we gather with family and friends during this pandemic may we be reminded of how precious life is. There are those who will not be with us, for various circumstances, including going to our eternal home. May this gospel provide us with the grace we need to be truly grateful for all your blessings.
Encountering Christ: In 2018, approaching the end of an arduous journey, there in our sights was the destination of our 500-mile, 37-day pilgrimage, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The anticipation continued to build with every step. Not realizing what awaited us, I had visions of great fanfare and celebration. Instead, we walked into a crowd of strangers without the slightest hint of recognition. I was disappointed! While I wallowed in my discontent, I lost a once in a lifetime opportunity to give thanks to the one who called me, brought me, and kept me safe for more than a month. I was standing at the top of a spiritual mountain, at the culmination of many days filled with adventure and overwhelming grace too busy looking down instead of looking up.
How often do we limit our opportunities and experience of God’s wonderful and generous grace because we do not recognize and appreciate what is in our midst? How many times was Jesus frustrated, disappointed, and sad because so many did not recognize that he was the Messiah, the Son of God who came to give his life so we could reach the end of our pilgrimage on earth with Him in heaven.
This year’s Thanksgiving gatherings should be more significant since it has been two years since the last time most were able to gather in large groups. Will we be like the nine lepers who after receiving what we asked for forget or worse choose not to thank the one responsible for everything we have? Or will we be like the one who came back to glorify God? Yes, we have all endured so much, especially in the last year and a half. No one could have imagined the struggles and suffering. Yet here we are, gathered at table with loved ones. And, somewhere, probably not far, is someone who continues to struggle and suffer alone. What are we grateful for? And who should we thank?
After expressing all we are thankful for we must humbly approach the one who can make us whole. Jesus, fully human and fully divine who like us gathered at many meals to give thanks for friends, family, and the gift of the present moment of grace. Surrounded by people who remind us that the challenges in life are worth all the effort. Free of imperfection? No, not at all. However, despite our human frailties there exists the bond that forges us into one body. A perfect love that became one of us so that our love could bear fruit. The fruit of divine origins that inspires us, provides us with all we need to not just endure the journey but to thrive, grow, and transform into ones God calls his daughters and sons.
Closing Prayer: Dear God, the giver of all that is good, may we be ever mindful of how many times you have healed our wounds. In that moment of awareness may we express our gratitude not because you need it but because we give it freely and without pretense. Thank you!!!
Action for the Day: There are so many influences in this world that have us at odds. Today, look at each other as God sees us. We are intelligent beings who have souls that are capable of much more than we can imagine. Let love be the motivation for every conversation, gesture, and intention so we may have room at our table and in our hearts for the love that conquers all!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING from All of us at DEACON 5!!