“Come, let us sing to the Lord, and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving and sing joyful songs to the Lord.”
These words from Psalm 95 are prayed most days in the Liturgy of the Hours at the Invitatory. Today on this Thanksgiving Holiday, we want to approach the Lord with praise and thanksgiving, even though it seems to many that there is precious little to be thankful for…if we pay attention to the news. Discord, strife, unrest, pain and suffering, all seem to be crowding out the good and the just which we celebrate today.
In today’s Responsorial Psalm, we can read it as ironical, or we can focus on the last line and read it prayerfully: “You have dominion over all, In your hand are power and might: it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.” Is it too much to ask our Lord that he give us grandeur and strength today, this day of Thanksgiving? In these times?
Of course, Brother Noon (I say to myself) if you paid attention to the First Reading, you’d realize that in your own life, you have nothing to compare with the tribulations of the congregation of Israel in the times before Judas Maccabeus. The destruction of the their homeland, exile, desecration of the sacred alter of worship, war and pillage were real trials, not just those we read about in our Bibles.
And then I remember that this day is also the Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs. Really…what is so bad in my personal life compared to this?
Yes over the past several months I have been besieged by several trials, physical, emotional, family problems. Yes, they absorbed me almost to distraction. And yes, I am beginning to see the light now. But who was there for me?
First, let me recite today’s Allaluia: “My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them and they follow me.”
God was there for me, even though my prayer life was in shambles. God was there for me. Coming out of the pain and fog of my affliction, I finally recognized that. That time, as it is now, was a time of thanksgiving. I was following the Lord only through his gentle guidance.
And so it should be in these times, and especially on this day.
Whether we are aware or not, we are under the Almighty’s watchful eye and, yes, he give us strength every day. Sometimes, as in my case, we are unaware and inappreciative. No matter. Once you are in the fold, there’s usually no getting out.
Which leads me to today’s Gospel. And to a little more negativity.
Already we’re hearing about why Native Americans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, the ongoing false battles of the War on Christmas, people complaining about Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving, and the eternal (or so it seems) tussle over how to greet people during the holidays. Such negativity. Such strife amidst a special time of year.