and so this is Thanksgiving... yep. Here we are. Happy Thanksgiving.
Before I even started preparing for Mass on Thanksgiving, I heard this song. Remarkably, I was introduced to this piece by a friend with whom I only recently reconnected, and one who surprised me by sharing about his own spiritual journey to God. I was surprised but also happy. I can even say that I was emotional to hear him speak of God and God's love, and maybe it was the emotion of his faith journey that made this song very poignant, but then I started to reflection the Gospel for this Thanksgiving. (Gospel Here) What really struck me about the song and the Gospel passage, is how much my own journey was like that of the nine, or like that of the prodigal son. More importantly, I was touched by so many people that I have ministered to who have welcomed me. People who were turned away or made to feel less because of where they had been along their own journey, or people who had somehow come to believe the false expectations set upon them by society (church, family, god, or whatever) More and more, I came to see the nine who never returned, not as thankless scoundrels, but as people like me, people who had come to believe that if the love of God was on me, maybe it was a fluke. Or perhaps, they believed that somehow, they had cheated their way to health, by some miscalculation of our All-Knowing God, I had managed to received God's grace and love. Kinda like when you get a dollar extra at the store. But instead of returning it (like I know we all do), they decided to play it safe and take what they could get. Maybe the inheritance of the prodigal was all he thought he could ever attain and that was satisfactory, even if it was only temporary. Like those nine, I too came to a point in my faith journey where I wasn't sure how I had managed to be graced, especially when I heard the opposite, but with the grace I perceived to have, I tried to squirrel it away and do what I could. And this brings me to Thanksgiving. As I reflected on what it means to give thanks, I had to recognize that giving thanks is also recognizing the love of God that calls me from beyond my sin and confusion. God's voice is loud and clear and instead of condemning me for trying to hoard what little grace I believe i posses, God continuously beckons me and gives to me even more. Giving thanks is about recognizing that my thanks is about accepting a love that calls me to be my full self. A love that invites me to spread the Good News, and a love that allows me to love and be as I have been created. Not a cowering leper, but a person brought up from the ground, from the dirt of sin, into the joy of Love! This Thanksgiving, I will celebrate with the Prodigal and the one who was healed and I will accept in humility, the voice of God which says to me (and you) "You are beautiful. You are loved." I am beautiful. I am loved. And so are you. Be blessed and I pray that you have a Happy Thanksgiving. As always, I love you. Fr Rick