|“Generation after generation, praises your works….
The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works…” –Psalm 145*
Last month, October, I had an amazing experience of being in Rome for meetings with my sisters in community. We had a few days free that afforded us an opportunity to get out and see Rome. On my bucket list for this month was to get to Piazza San Pietro, to view the sculpture Pope Francis commissioned, titled, Angels Unawares. Previously, in the unveiling of this very large bronze statue Pope Francis told the world “Christians have a moral obligation to God’s care for all those who are marginalized, especially migrants and refugees.” Yes. “The Lord is good to all and compassionate…”
When I saw this incredible work of art my initial response was “Huddled masses yearning to be free.” From another very large bronze statue. Quoted from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus in 1883, and inscribe on our Statue of Liberty, she also wrote “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name, Mother of Exiles.”
Today we celebrate our national Thanksgiving Day that has been remembered generations upon generations. We are a nation of immigrant pilgrim seekers of freedoms to live and pray without oppression. As the Hebrew peoples remembered the fidelity of God throughout their stories of slavery, exiles, migrations, wars and famine, and gave praise and thanks, (Psalms) we too, recall, praise and give thanks to our God for all we have received, and primarily, our freedom as a nation, and as church, our redemption in Christ Jesus. This we do in the celebration of Eucharist.
The opening prayer askes that our “hearts have concern for every man, woman and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service.” Listen closely to the Preface, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks…You have entrusted to us the great gift of freedom, a gift that calls forth responsibility and commitment to the truth that all have a fundamental dignity before you.”
All the readings for today emphasize God’s gracious goodness, compassion and mercy. Our gospel tells us a familiar passage of Jesus curing the ten lepers. By law, he sends them to the priests to recognize their healing, but the one “foreigner” returned to Jesus to give thanks. Jesus himself wonders where are the others? Do they not want to thank God? The leper can easily represent anyone on the margins or the healing we all need within our own lives. Do we remember to give praise and thanks for God’s mercy even when we may not understand or get our expected outcomes? God is present and walks with each of us on our own migration into God as pilgrims on the way to the fullness of the reign of God.
Many tables will be filled with fine and traditional foods as an expression of our gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day. Soup kitchens and shelters will provide for the many without homes to celebrate with family or friends. Many people will volunteer, supply and serve these meals as witnesses to Christs compassionate presence among us.
With the sharing of food, we also remember the bountiful our earth provides for us. But here, too, our planet cries out to us to awaken our precious relationship for its sustainability.
St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that gratitude is the key to life. He invites us to examine our use of the many gifts and goods God has given us, and always give thanks. We pray, O Creator, “You have entrusted to us the great gift of freedom, a gift that calls forth responsibility and commitment to the truth that all (creation) has a fundamental dignity before you.”
We and all of creation are gift to each other from our creator. “Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord, and let your faithful ones bless you—generation upon generation!”*