Today is a national holiday here in the United States. Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a holiday celebrated by many people, religious and atheist alike. We have much to give thanks for. While Thanksgiving is considered a secular holiday, it is a day that is in keeping with our Catholic faith. In fact, the word Eucharist covers from a Greek word that means “thanksgiving.” Each time we celebrate the Eucharist we give thanks to God.
The story of the “first thanksgiving” is a familiar story to school children. The Puritans had come from England to establish a new home in the colonies. They have suffered a long journey and a difficult first year. They survived with the help of the Native American Indians and at the first harvest they gathered with the Native American Indians to give thanks. Of course, the Puritans were a religious people who had come to America seeking religious freedom. They would have understood that God had been with them and given thanks to God.
Scripture contains words of thanksgiving to God. Often we give thanks with everything is going well. In the second reading for this coming Sunday (1 Corinthians 1:3-9), Paul gives thanks to God for the grace God has bestowed upon the Corinthians. In reading some commentaries, some suggest that Paul writes with a sense of sarcasm here. If you read the read of the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians you will find that Paul is writing to correct them on their many sins and failings such as lust, incest, and failing to care for one another.
If we think we only give thanks to God when everything is going perfectly, and clearly things are not perfect with the Corinthians, one might think Paul is writing sarcastically. I propose another possibility. Paul knows things are not perfect. That doesn’t mean that God hasn’t given the people the grace they need. The problem is that the people have not totally opened themselves to that grace and have not lived up to their potential. Paul gives thanks to God knowing that God has given them the grace they need and that they are “not lacking in anything.”
Perhaps the secular comparison is to ask yourself ‘do you see the cup as half-full or half-empty?’ If you see the cup as half-empty, then you think about what you are lacking in life. As such, it can seem like you can never get ahead and it can be very difficult to find something to be thankful for.
If you see the cup as half-full, then you can be thankful for what you do have. You can live with an attitude of gratitude, thankful for what you do have and using what you have received in gratitude to help all.
God is a god of blessing and abundance. Let us give thanks for the blessings God has bestowed upon us.