Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Day



“First Thanksgiving” by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1863–1930
Thanksgiving Day

Dioceses of the United States

The following readings are selected from the options for this day "In Thanksgiving to God", 943-947.


Readings for the Celebration of Thanksgiving[1][2]

Readings and Commentary:[3]

Reading 1: Sirach 50:22-24

And now, bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days.

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Commentary on
Sir 50:22-24

This passage follows the eulogy of Simon II, the great high priest.  It is part of the conclusion of the book and a summary of the author's intent: blessing God for all his wondrous gifts. “Praise and thanksgiving are given to God for his wondrous works, and a blessing is invoked on man that he may enjoy peace and gladness of heart and the abiding goodness of the Most High.”
[4]

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Responsorial Psalm:


Psalm 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

R. (see 1) I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

They discourse of the power of your terrible deeds
and declare your greatness.
They publish the fame of your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your justice.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord
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Commentary on Ps 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise. These strophes (because it is in the acrostic form – each verse beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet) although loosely assembled, praise God for his mercy and compassion and give thanks for His creation and redemption. There is also a subtle link to the Christian Wisdom that comes with putting on the mind of Christ.

CCC: Ps 145:3 300; Ps 145:9 295, 342
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Reading II:
1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Brothers and sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,

and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
 

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Commentary on
1 Cor 1:3-9

This is the salutation portion of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. In typical letter format, he gives thanks to God for the gift of faith given to this community and continues his fervent wish that they (and we) be steadfast in the faith: “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus (Christ).“
CCC: 1 Cor 1:1-6 401
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Gospel: Luke 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, 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.”

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Commentary on
Lk 17:11-19

The story of the Samaritan leper, found only in St. Luke’s Gospel, reiterates Jesus’ ability to remove sins. Here the Lord cures ten lepers, outcasts, who are viewed by the community as being under God’s punishment. The Gospel is an indictment of the Hebrews who did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus’ comment:Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?is a clear indication that this lack of faith will have consequences. This is especially true when he follows this statement with:Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.This would seem to imply that those who refuse to accept Jesus’ status as the Christ would not receive God's salvation.


“This incident recounting the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper is narrated only in Luke's gospel and provides an instance of Jesus holding up a non-Jew as an example to his Jewish contemporaries (cf
Luke 10:33 where a similar purpose is achieved in the story of the good Samaritan). Moreover, it is the faith in Jesus manifested by the foreigner that has brought him salvation (Luke 17:19; cf the similar relationship between faith and salvation in Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48, 50).” [5]


CCC: Lk 17:14 586; Lk 17:19-31 2463
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Reflection:

Today is the secular holiday of Thanksgiving. It was officially sanctioned as a holiday, first by the State of New Hampshire in 1782 and as a National Holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War.

Thanksgiving is one of the few secular holidays the Church has fully embraced, for very obvious reasons. While the tradition began as a harvest celebration by a predominantly agrarian community, the fact that its focus is on thankfulness to God is a very Christian ideal. As we see in the scripture above, it is at the very heart of our faith and has been promoted for as long as we have had our Judeo-Christian roots.

Today as our nation goes to parades, watches football games and waits with bated breath for the launching of the giant commercial orgy that precedes the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord, we as a people of faith once more turn to God in prayer. We all have special prayers that we can utter on this occasion. We all have special things that we can give thanks for. I give you this prayer, incorporating the reading in Sirach:

And now, bless the God of all, (and His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ)
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure in Israel
(and the whole world),
to deliver us in our days.

Pax and Happy Thanksgiving


[1] S.S.Commemoratio
[2] The picture is “First Thanksgiving” by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1863–1930
[3] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. 
[4] See NAB footnote on Sirach 50:22
[5] See NAB footnote on Luke 17:11-19

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