There are two different sets of readings for Mass today, because it is Thanksgiving Day in the US, but most other countries in the world will use different readings. What should we do? Which set of readings should we focus on? How about both?
The weekday readings for ordinary time today have to do with what is commonly known as The End Times. In the first reading from the book of Revelation, a mighty angel from heaven threw a massive stone into the sea, to illustrate the complete and total destruction of Babylon. After announcing how God’s justice would be served to the great harlot, the angel instructed John to write down this passage:
“Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
This same verse is continued throughout the responsorial psalm, which also ends by saying:
“The Lord is good; his kindness endures forever and his faithfulness, to all generations.”
In the US, today is Thanksgiving Day, and we have a feast, a large meal with our family and friends, to celebrate God’s blessings in our life. When we sit down for dinner today, and look around the table at those we love, we should be grateful for their presence in our lives. It doesn’t matter if there are only two people eating the meal together, a large family, or even dinner in the parish hall today, we should be grateful for those who are with us. There are no strangers at the dinner table, only family, only friends.
The first reading for Thanksgiving Mass today fits the occasion very well. It says:
“And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth; Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb, and fashions them according to his will! May he grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you.”
We have so many memories of Thanksgiving dinners in the past, and the people who are no longer in our lives. But, we shouldn’t be sad, because this life is not all there is. Our loved ones are still with us, through the memories of their love. Love is what lives forever We will join them soon enough, for the wedding feast of the Lamb, if we remain in God’s grace. But, even this we should have peace about because Saint Paul told us in today’s second reading:
“He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The gospel for Ordinary Time today, is all about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has some frightening images and tells of the terrible destruction that will happen just before Jesus returns to the earth. The nations of the world will be perplexed about the roaring of the waves in the sea, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
But, the gospel today for the Thanksgiving Day Mass is about Jesus healing ten lepers. Ten were healed but only one told him thank you.
The two readings for Mass are not at odds with each other though, if you stop and think about it. Perhaps we should just be grateful for the present moment. No one knows how much time we have left on the earth. It is good just to be alive and be in the company of those we love. We do not have to think up deep thoughts for our prayer at the dinner table today (where ever you live), just tell the good Lord thank you for the gift of our lives, and for our family and friends.
Family gatherings can be a healing thing on many levels. We live so much of our lives, wrapped up in our own little world. Our family gatherings help to draw us out of our own self involved interests and immerses us into the company of ‘others’. Our sense of identity changes a bit, in the company of those we love. This wonderful communion in families, is healing, because people are accepted, welcomed, included and respected.
Perhaps we should just enjoy the moments of being together today, realizing that life will not go on forever, the way that it is right now. The love will though. Let us be one of the lepers that recognizes his need for the Lord’s healing, and be grateful for the love and attention that our family members and friends show us. We are also called to be healing for the lepers, or people in our own families who are not well accepted by others. Let us make a point to be Christ’s presence to them. Jesus has no hands or feet now, but ours. It is our turn to not just receive his love and healing in our lives, but also to give this same love and healing to those who need it the most.