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A Deeper Thanksgiving

My Dear Families,

A dear friend of mine was traveling through the south one time. At an airport he encountered some evangelical preachers. One saw the crucifix about his neck, pointed to it and said: “You believe in a dead God! We believe in the God of resurrection and life!” My buddy, taken aback, asked the young man if he had a Bible handy. Thankfully, he was able to turn quickly to the words of Saint Paul.

Paul is categorical: “We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:23). Paul admits the apparent foolishness or folly of the project, but it is not a human endeavor. He continues, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). Then Paul explains how the teaching derives from a deeper logic: the mysterious wisdom of God, and how the Holy Spirit assists the believer to plunge the depths of the mysteries of God. Thank God my friend was familiar with the Sacred Scriptures! Daily meditation on the Word of God - slowly working through one Gospel or letter of the New Testament at a time - is a great way to daily feed our faith. Just 15 or 20 minutes everyday is very nourishing, as Pope Francis has suggested.

The Gospel today on this Solemnity of Christ the King may surprise us. Why do we find ourselves at the foot of the cross? We believe in a crucified king, one who has a victory not of this world but beyond it. Likewise, His kingdom - while expressing itself in seminal form on earth - will only be fully revealed in the kingdom to come. Hence, we pray “Thy Kingdom come!” May your reign, O Lord, be brought about on earth as it already exists in heaven.

A beautiful early hymn that Paul includes in his letter to the Colossians (this may be one of the earliest Christian songs!) recounts the paradox that Christ Jesus is both (a) the one in whom created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, were created AND (b) the one in whom all things are reconciled, him to reconcile all through the blood of the cross. True followers of Jesus must hold these two realities in tension, not abandoning one side of the see-saw for a version of Christianity we might find easier to stomach. The cross is both rugged, messy, heinous even… and beautiful!

It is from the cross that our true life in Christ emerges, as the great fruit of his life-giving death (another paradox). As the classic lenten hymn rings out: “Let us glory in the Cross of Christ, the triumph of God’s great love.” We give thanks for the great and perfect self-offering of the Son of Man. We also give thanks for the richness of our Lord’s mercy. His perfect self-gift on the cross allows Jesus to extend mercy to the repentant thief who hears the sweet promise, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

This week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our nation, for our family, for the fall harvest, for our traditions and customs. But the most resonant thanks comes from the depth of the soul that recognizes the most profound gift of eternal life that is shared with us in the outpouring of Christ’s passion. And each and every time we gather together for the Holy Eucharist, we commemorate this gift. Afterall, eucharist means thanksgiving. I hope you can find the time to join us on Thanksgiving for daily Mass at 9am. Wake up early. Put the turkey in the oven and join us in church… to offer the ultimate prayer of thanksgiving.

May God bless you and yours this week!

Fr. Wilson 

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