Homily for Friday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
Theme: Giving Thanks
Mount of the Beatitudes
By: Deacon Bill Frere
Homily for Friday November 26 2021
Gospel – Luke: 17:11-19
Anyone feeling a bit rushed this morning? Veggies all peeled, cut and chopped? Pumpkin pie baked? Turkey all stuffed and in the oven? All prepped and ready for the Feast? Or do you have a whole list of things still to be done and a strict timeline for it all to happen?
Are you sitting here nervously checking your watch and, at the same time, wondering how long this reflection is going to be?
Timing! Is today all about timing and schedules? So much planning and prep that, when everything is cooked and ready, it is almost a relief to just sit and eat? So much cleaning and effort! But did we leave any time at all to reflect on the meaning of the day, on what/whom to be grateful for and to give thanks?
For me, that piece of giving thanks is reflected in this book I am holding! A Thanksgiving Blessing book, a book filled not with prayers and blessings but empty pages!
We bought this book back in 2000. And we began a Thanksgiving tradition – sitting down at the dining room table and, before digging in, we would each write in the book what we were thankful for that year. This book reflects the good and the bad, the highs and the lows of over 20 years. The year when Jaime’s boyfriend at the time, Josh, gathered with us for the first time! The year when Jaime and Josh were married! The year when Tyler was born and a few years later when Nate was born! The year I had back surgery and the long slow recovery! The years when we had one less chair around the table! 21 years of giving thanks! Except for one year! Last year when we could not safely gather as a family!
And yet through it all, we still wrote in the book, we still gathered, we still gave thanks!!
Today’s Gospel tells us the story of the 10 lepers! 10 were healed and yet only 1 returned to offer Jesus thanks! And he was a Samaritan! It is a story of thanks, but also one of faith and hope! That Samaritan not only thanks Jesus; he offers Him praise, glorifying God! And you have to think this was only the beginning of his life of faith and hope in the Lord! It is a reminder to us all, that we all offer gratitude for His mercy and healing, for His love and compassion for each and every one of us.
It reminds me of another tradition that expresses not only thanks, but also faith and hope! As many of you know, besides being the Deacon at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, I am also Deacon for the Native American community in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Whenever we gather for Mass or prayer service, we always hold a community meal afterwards. And that meal always begins with a special “grace” and that includes what we call a SPIRIT PLATE!
This is a Spirit Plate! Before we share the meal, we place a bit of every food on the plate and then offer up a thanksgiving prayer to the Creator. And then we return the food back to the earth in the hope that God will continue to bless us with His gifts of water and food from the earth! Like we heard in today’s Gospel, that simple spirit plate reflects our thanks, our faith and our hope in God!
Deacon Bill Frere