33rd Thursday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 63: 7 – 9; Colossians 3: 12 – 17; Luke 17: 11 – 19
In this Liturgy of Thanksgiving Day the act of gratitude, of thanksgiving is presented us; Isaiah gives us a motive: “He (God) has favored us according to His mercy and His great kindness.” St. Paul in Colossians calls us to a way of life: “Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Give thanks to God the Father through Him.” The Samaritan, now cured of leprosy by Jesus, is the only one to thank Him and his heartfelt gratitude is observed and acknowledged by the Lord, who surely was moved by the man’s gratefulness.
In listening to these Sacred Readings, as people of faith, we are being formed into thankfulness – the readings are much more than exhortations, pious advice – they are the Word of God and as such they touch us in our depths through our listening in faith…they form us in our belief. We are being overshadowed and penetrated by the Holy Spirit – not unlike the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation.
But there is something more penetrating our depths here and now that exceeds the Sacred Word and that is the Holy Eucharist we are celebrating – the center of our Catholic faith, the center of our Cistercian monastic life; we are “Eucharistic People.” Eucharist is a Greek word which means “to give thanks”; in the words of consecration of the bread and the wine we hear this of Jesus: “…He Himself took bread and giving You thanks…broke the bread and gave it to His disciples”…and “He took the chalice and giving You thanks…gave the chalice to His disciples…”
He gave thanks – the Gospel accounts do not provide with the content of His thanks. But from Jesus’ own words could it not be that He gives thanks that can lay down His life – that He can and will love to the end – that He can serve His Father’s will with utterly faithful obedience?
At the conclusion of the words of consecration, we hear not a mere invitation but a command of Jesus: “Do this in memory of Me.” And so as His own we follow His word – we celebrate the Holy Eucharist and we pray that our hearts are formed by Him – that we too in our lives “give thanks” and as His disciples live with His mind.
Something to reflect on today and everyday: Am I really a thankful person, does gratitude mark my life as it did Jesus? How would another recognize this in me, in you? Actions speak louder than words! That adage is absolutely true of Jesus who, in profound thankfulness, laid down His life for you, for me, for all. To give of one’s life is to be a man, a woman of the Eucharist – it is the unmistakable sign of thanksgiving.
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