Thanksgiving Day in the United States is on November 23rd this year. There is historical context for this day going back to 1621 when the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared a harvest feast to express gratitude for assistance provided by the Native Americans. For Catholics and all Christians, this day is an opportunity to ask God to forgive our sins, to repent for the things we have done, and to give God thanks for all that He has given us. This should sound very familiar to all Catholics as this is the essence of our Sunday Mass.
Eucharist is Thanksgiving
Originally known as “the breaking of the bread”, the word “eucharist” is derived from the Greek word “eucharista” literally meaning “thanksgiving” or to “give thanks.” The eucharist is the most important of the seven sacraments and the mass as we receive the body and blood of Jesus. Many Catholics approach the eucharist every Sunday in a spirit of repentance, searching for forgiveness, and thankful for all that God has done for them. Unfortunately, not everyone has reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving, and during the course of the year. Too many people are impacted by the economic crisis, addiction, and homelessness to feel thankful to God or anyone. Our job as disciples is to look out for each other and take care of each other as best we can.
The Judgment of the Nations
The “Judgment of the Nations” are my favorite scripture verses, and I believe to be the charge that God gives to us to help others:
Matthew 25:31-46 – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Let us not only be thankful for what God has done for us, but let’s be true disciples and live the “Judgment of the Nations.” If we live these words we will open up an entirely new world to be thankful to God.
Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless