Thanksgiving Day 2015

[Scripture Readings: Sir 50:22-24; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Lk 17:11-19]

"He fell at his feet and thanked him …
And Jesus said, 'Stand up and go, your faith has saved you.'"

"He fell at his feet and thanked him …"
And Jesus said, "Hey, Dude, why this latitude?
Your GPS blowed a tube? You're mono-hued, a moody blue,
Multihued longitude ensues a move of attitude.
Altitude, Dude, 's the beatitude of gratitude:
Stand up and go, your faith has saved you."

Thanksgiving is a response to what comes to us as a surprise and undeserved. As a response, thanksgiving relates us to the giver, not to the gift. As a response that connects us, thanksgiving is a religious act, where religion means to connect or bind or link two things together. Thanksgiving Day, then, is a religious holiday, probably our nation's only one. It is a beautiful thing that America's religion is thanksgiving. When we thank, we acknowledge a kindness and mercy coming from outside us. As our reading from Sirach says,
May God grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us … deliver us in our days.

When we thank, we are humble, not presumptuous, and we are inclined not so much to pay the kindness back, as to pay it forward, to be kind and surprisingly gracious to another as unsuspecting as we were, but as needy and vulnerable, too.

Jesus tells the thankful leper, "Stand up and go," because that is the disposition of the thankful heart. Thanksgiving Day, our national holiday, gives us hope for our nation, hope for people from other nations who come begging a place at her table, a share in the bounty this land bestows and that this nation is a steward of but doesn't own. For us Christians, the greatest gift, the one we need to pass on first, is to be patient with one another and to forgive as we have been forgiven.

"Stand up," arms down,
Walls down, America,
War's done you no good turn,
Burn the bombs, bullets, guns,
Yearn for reconciliation:
Enemy your brother, the other
Your unmet friend, send him
Flowers, what's yours is ours
From our common Father, Mother Earth's milk and bread
For living babies, bury the dead
Memories and fears.
Stand up together and go your faith has saved you
Unpave your Paradise
And give thanks together.

Beatitude, Dude, 's the altitude of gratitude.