Faces on Faith: All is gift
Pastor, St. Isabel’s Roman Catholic Church
The “holiday” season is also a deeply religious season when, more than any other time of year, we are moved to a genuine sense of gratitude.
Thanksgiving, while having a largely secular origin, was never meant to be separated from the religious inclinations which spawned its birth as a holiday.
Indeed, Abraham Lincoln and the many presidents after him who declared this holiday to be part of the very fabric of American culture never viewed Thanksgiving as separated from a God who was seen as the giver of every good gift.
To be human is to be grateful. It is said that gratitude is the odor of humility, for an honest look at our lives prompts us to see ourselves in relation to others, and more importantly, in relation to another who is the source of all that is good.
We are by our very nature men and women who are indebted, we are dependent on others and on the supreme “other” for our very being. Gratitude is the natural response of the person who recognizes that all is gift.
The Gospel of Luke tells us a story of Jesus entering a village and being approached by ten lepers. Someone in the group was convinced that Jesus might have pity on them and held out hope that even in a greeting their lives could be improved.
The gospel recounts no lengthy conversations, no prerequisites for their healing, just a simple request by Jesus “to go show yourselves to the priests.”
The priests were the only ones who could proclaim the lepers clean and bring to an end their exclusion from society. On the way, all ten were made clean, and one, only one, a Samaritan, returns to Jesus to give thanks.
We should not be too hard on the other nine lepers who could not find the time to say thanks.
Maybe they were overwhelmed with their new found status, maybe they were celebrating with their families and friends from whom they had been separated for such a long time.
In any case, one out of ten followed the promptings of his heart and made the effort to say thank you. We are all meant to be the one in ten. We are meant to be men and women who have a deep sense of gratitude for all that is done for us, and that sense of gratitude is meant to lead us to do the same, to be generous toward others.
It is said that “the courtesy of giving thanks is a necessary lubricant of social life, binding persons together in mutual generosity.”
On Thanksgiving, indeed, on every day, let us pause among all the festivities to humbly give thanks for all the gifts we have been given.
Let us never be so unthinking that we are numbered with the 90 percent who fail to make the effort to say thank you, but let us find ourselves among that 10% who recognize that all is gift and make the effort to say thank you to a loving God from the bottom of our hearts.
-The Rev. Christopher Senk, Pastor, St. Isabel’s Roman Catholic Church