END OF YEAR THANKSGIVING MASS, 2019-20
St. John says: “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s Children, and that is what we are…” (1Jn 3:1)
Today, we gather there in thanksgiving to God for the year that is just about to end. We look back with grateful hearts for God’s blessings, protection, and guidance. We are thanking God, who by his divine providence, made it possible that we all see the end of the old year 2019. We are thanking God because it is all his making, and St. Paul advices us in his First Letter to the Thessalonians, in everything give thanks, for it is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1Thess. 5:17). There can be no other form of thanksgiving than the sacrifice of the Mass, through which Jesus re-enacts through the hands of the priests, his sacrifice on the cross for the redemption of mankind. We look back at our lives from January of 2019 (how many people were with us last year who can no longer sit in this Church?), we look at what we are now, and we say like the Psalmist, “How can I ever repay the Lord, for his goodness to me? The cup of salvation I will raise, I will call on the Lord’s name…. A thanksgiving sacrifice I make, I will call on the Lord’s name.” (Ps116)
In the text of Saint Luke’s Gospel chosen for this Celebration, the episode of the Cure of the ten Lepers clearly emphasizes our duty and obligation to render immense thanks to God for this day, and for his countless gifts in our lives. They had been cured of a disfiguring disease which not only caused physical suffering, but made them outcasts from society. As the Gospel told us, only one of the ten Lepers who were healed came back to Jesus to thank Him. “Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him” (Lk 17:15-16) Unfortunately, not all people remember to give thanks to other human beings and to God. We spend time teaching our children how to say “thank you”, how to write a note of appreciation. But, then we adults often fail to take the time say, “thank you.” Let us look at an instance of failing to thank God:
WHAT HAPPENS IN HEAVEN WHEN WE PRAY? (someone’s dream)
I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, ‘This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received.
I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.
Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.
The angel then said to me, “This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them.” I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.
Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. “This is the Acknowledgment Section, my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.” How is it that there is no work going on here?’ I asked.
“So sad,” the angel sighed. “After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments”
“How does one acknowledge God’s blessings?” I asked.
“Simple, “the angel answered. Just say, “Thank you, Lord.”
“What blessings should they acknowledge?” I asked.
- “If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. “
- “If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.”
- “If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation … You are ahead of 700 million people in the world.”
- “If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.”
- “If your parents are still alive and still married …you are very rare.”
- “If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm; you’re unique to all those in doubt and despair…….”
(Ex. 15:1-18) This is the song of Thanksgiving of the Israelites after they had crossed the red sea and God had killed all the Egyptians in the sea. We are here just to sing the praises of God for all he has done in our lives, our families and our country. Look at what is happening in other African countries, wars, killing, famine, homicide etc. why don’t we have it here? It is simply because of God’s goodness, not because we are better than the other countries. Let us simply sing to praise God.
The Gospel text of today deplores the ungrateful attitude of the nine lepers. Fortunately there is the tenth leper who says nothing but simply turns back to thank Jesus. We gather here today like the tenth leper. If we count our blessing, if we realize that all is from above, then we shall be more likely to act like the tenth leper when he realized he was healed – to return with joy and give God thanks and praise. If we can come to this realization, then we shall make the best of this Eucharistic celebration of today, by ceasing to be distant and idle spectators here and now, and engaging ourselves in real prayer and thanksgiving. For all that we think we can and have achieved by our own strength, we would discover God’s hand in them all. The Psalmist says that all our achievements without God’s blessings come to nothing:
If the Lord does not build the house,
In vain do its builders labour;
If the Lord does not watch over the city,
In vain does the watchman keep vigil!
In vain is your earlier rising,
And going later to rest,
You who toil for the bread you eat:
When He pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber. (Ps. 127:1-2)
In thanking God, today, we are also asking for more blessings and protection in the days ahead. Brother and Sisters, with grateful hearts to God for all He has given us, and for protecting us from all harm and from every evil, we also ask Him for forgiveness of our sins, and for the hurts we have brought to bear on one another. Here is a prayer recommended for each one of us here, present: “Lord, you have given so much to me, give me one thing more: a grateful heart. AMEN”