Posted by: Fr Chris | November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Day

Luke 17: 11-19

To be truly grateful, we have to remember. When we are truly grateful, we are slow to forget what made us grateful.

The nine Jewish lepers in the gospel reading do not even remember to thank Jesus in the few minutes after they have left him, and they discover that they are healed. In the painting below, they run off in joy. Only the Samaritan man, despised by the Jews in general, goes back to the Jewish rabbi to thank him.

When the Pilgrims held their thanksgiving day, it was after half of them had died of hardship, yet they still celebrated in church and with a big festive meal. They were indebted to the Catholic Indian, Squanto, for their survival, and the forgiveness extended to them by the local tribes after the Pilgrims stole some of their cached food. Sadly, the English would launch terrible wars against those same tribes, and the Catholic Indians to the north. Their memory was all too short! We are invited to thank God not only today, but every day.

Secondly, we need to always recognize the goodness of God. When we are truly grateful, we come to understand that as we say in the psalms, and in the Matins service, God’s mercies endure forever.

We may not always be aware, we may be as foolish as the nine lepers, but God’s mercy  lasts and is always present. Notice that in Ukraine, despite bombardments, lack of electricity and gas heating and water, people are still going to church. Despite their sufferings, they continue to worship God!

Finally, we need true humility. When we are truly grateful, we humbly confess that we are indebted to God, that we belong to him and that we are not our own.

The first thanksgiving service in America of Europeans and Native Americans was in 1565, when the colony of Saint Augustine was founded in Florida. Rather than the normal procedure of planting the flag and claiming land in the name of the king that had been done for the previous 70 years, the Spanish governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés planted a cross, which he kissed, and then claimed Florida in the name of God.

If we were to focus entirely on the Holy Name of God, and recognize every day that everything comes from Him and through Him, surely our lives would be much different! I pray daily for the conversion of our government to Catholic principles, for the conversion and salvation of our country, and for my own ongoing conversion and salvation. We need to do this every day, not only on Thanksgiving Day, and root ourselves in the Cross of  Christ, in the worship of God, and in humility, recognizing God’s goodness, and remembering always that His mercy and goodness endure forever.


  1. Great reflection! Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, Father Chris!

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