Commentary on the Gospel of
Today in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday devoted to feasting and remembrance. In days past, when all were connected more closely to the production of our food, the blessings of a good harvest were likely more prominent in the list of gifts for which thanksgiving was offered. We still depend on those harvests for our food, but we may not appreciate the struggles of hardworking people to grow and produce our food and the everyday miracles that make that growth possible. Today’s readings draw us into thanksgiving and praise for gifts that we are prone to overlook.
Sirach reminds us that God formed us from our mother’s womb, fostering our growth and fashioning our natures according to His will. The gift of life found in each human child is wondrous indeed; that fragile gift requires nurturing, patience, and selfless devotion. We all too easily forget these wondrous gifts, even when we live in the midst of them. Today, let us join with young and old to pray for all people to respect and honor the dignity of human life. And let us be especially kind to our mothers and to all who give so selflessly to nurture life in each of us.
The Psalm and the reading from Corinthians both mention discourse about the majesty of God that is reflected in all His works. In the creed, we testify to God’s power as Creator of all things visible and invisible. The created beauty we experience may differ according to where we live, but these wonders testify to the majesty of the Creator. We often live in ways that detach us from mindfulness of these wonders, causing us to lose our bearings. We need this discourse in our lives to set us straight! Today, let us pause, breathing in the sweet air, basking in the sunshine and starlight, and taking in the world around us that is not made by human hands; hear its quiet testimony.
Finally, today’s gospel provides a wonderful story of gratitude that flows from God’s mercy. We in the developed world may know little of leprosy, but we know all too well the desolation that comes to our soul through illness and isolation. The ten lepers had seemingly lost part of their human dignity on account of their disease, which separated them from their community. Their cry to Jesus was a cry for restoration of this dignity that was part of their human birthright, but which a disorder in this world had taken from them.
We do not know what the other nine lepers were thinking, but we do know that the Samaritan returned to Jesus with thanksgiving and praise for this gift of mercy and restoration. (Consider the possibility that even within the community of the ten lepers, he might have also felt isolated because of his status as a Samaritan!) Somehow, can we imagine what it would be like to experience this kind of joy? Today, let us call to mind our own need for mercy, healing, and restoration. God has made a generous provision for us: “God is faithful, and by him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Let us respond not only with thanksgiving and a joyous heart, but also with generosity in mercy for others. Thanks be to God.