Reflection for Thursday, November 24, 2022: 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Thanksgiving Day (USA).
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|I have been writing these reflections since November, 1998, and it has been a very rewarding experience for me. Over that time, I have written reflections on today's readings twice before – once on 11.23.06 and again on 11.27.14 . Both times the readings were for the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the U.S., as they are for today.* |I find that when I revisit familiar readings, the challenge is to avoid the temptation of a "been there, done that" attitude. We all are busy, and after 60 or more years (for me) of hearing readings and a homilist's thoughts on them, it seems unlikely that I will hear something new. Perhaps the wisdom of the liturgical calendar is not that we will hear something new, but instead be reminded of lessons that we learned but might have forgotten.|The theme for today is gratitude and how we can express it. Sirach says "bless the God of all." The Psalmist pledges to "praise your name forever, Lord." Paul gives thanks for the grace brought to us through Jesus. And Luke shares the story of the one grateful and nine ungrateful lepers that Jesus healed. Bless God, praise the Lord, give thanks to God . . . how do these phrases speak to me today?|In the past when I have expressed gratitude, or provided an invocation or a blessing before a meal, I have usually given thanks for the people who have provided us with the food, or grown it, or cooked it, etc. I think of the people around us who have given us something, the actors who did something that benefitted me or the group, and thank them for their efforts. This time, when I revisited the readings, I found myself focusing on a different person.|Like the nine lepers, it is easy for us to overlook the things right in front of us for which we should be grateful. I think our busy-ness seduces us into complacency and shallowness when we encounter what truly are marvels all about us. For example, how is it I am able to type this document and share it with you? If we break down all the essential events and steps throughout human history that collectively led to this moment (language, writing, mechanical writing, electronics, computers, etc. etc.), it is incredible. How is it we are able to do these things?|Or, consider the meals we eat today. How conscious are we of the chain of human development that has led to what we put on the table? How many tens (hundreds?) of thousands of years ago did one of our ancestors discover grains, and think of grinding them, and combining them with oil to produce dough, and then bread? Who thought it would make sense to domesticate some animals? Who thought of the idea to cook meat and other foods? Who figured out that not all parts of an animal should be eaten? How many of our ancestors learned by trial and error what nuts, and berries, and fruits, and vegetables, could and could not be eaten? Why did someone think to add spices to food to enhance their flavor, or to dry foods to preserve them? Who learned to plant seed and then to experiment by choosing better and stronger successors to the original plants?|It seems to me when we give thanks today, and every day, for our blessings we must first and always thank our Creator who made it all possible. Our species has been endowed with physical senses, an intellect with the ability to learn for ourselves and communicate with others, a restless curiosity to explore and discover, to create and adapt, to reason and to make conscious choices. Our most fundamental gratitude must be to God for the gift of life itself, a life in which we, spiritual beings that we are, experience this physical realm and, when we pause and reflect, are filled with the grace of wonder and awe. With the gift of self-awareness, we can recognize today our individual and collective mistakes from the past. With the gift of love for what our Creator has provided us, we can choose to atone for those times we have selfishly exploited these gifts and redirect our actions to help the kingdom of God on earth flourish.|My prayer today is simple – Thank you, Lord, for creating our world with all its beauty, and for generously sharing it with us. Thank you for the gift of my life. Thank you for this moment when I can pause and reflect on your glory and see it in all the creation that surrounds me. |* If you would like to visit the archives, go to the landing page for Daily Reflections. In the upper right part of the heading there is a link to the archives. The next page has a link for "read about, etc." and clicking on that link takes you to a page where you can go to the Creighton Digital Repository (CDR) site. Once there you can browse by authors, and then once you select an author, you go to the archive for that person. There is a settings wheel above the listing and you can select a filter such as issue date and ascending. You then can scroll until you find the reflections you want to review.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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