Like most of you, I’ll gather around a table this Thanksgiving with family and friends. I’ll have the privilege of being with my mother, my sister and her husband, and my favorite niece and nephew – I only have two! For several weeks, I’ve been looking forward to this chance to be with my family—to relax, and catch up, and to laugh with one another.
My family will begin our time together with the truest moment of Thanksgiving—with an expression of gratitude to Jesus Christ for the gifts that he has given us. And earlier that day, like every day, I’ll celebrate the sacrament of thanksgiving—the Most Holy Eucharist.
Few people realize that the word “Eucharist” is a Greek word for “thanksgiving.” The term has been used since the first century to signify the Body and Blood of Christ because when the priest offers the sacrifice of Holy Mass, he gives thanksgiving to God—just as Jesus Christ did at the Last Supper.
Our Thanksgiving holiday is linked, by its very name, to the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ. And, on Thanksgiving, we should remember that everything we have is a gift from God – we should remember that our very being is a gift from God. And that the highest, most meaningful, and most everlasting gift God can give us is His Son, Jesus Christ, made present the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
A few days after Thanksgiving, we’ll enter into the season of Advent. And, Advent, too, is a reminder that God has given us the great gift of Jesus Christ—who became a child, in the humble circumstances of his birth, in order that all of us might know our dignity, might be redeemed and forgiven our sins, and might be transformed in holiness.
I often realize on Thanksgiving how many things I take for granted. It can be easy for us to lose sight of how much we’ve been given—even to lose sight of the great gift of Christ himself. But on Thanksgiving, we reflect, intentionally, on the graces of our lives. This practice is helpful at every time of the year, and every time of our lives.
Thanksgiving, and Advent, are good times to begin to pray for the grace of gratitude. And because the Eucharist is the sacrament of thanksgiving, regularly receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ—and spending time in the presence of the Eucharist—will help us to acquire and cultivate grateful hearts. The more we are grateful to God, the better stewards we will become of the graces and gifts God has given us.
Around the Thanksgiving table, I’ll remember the graces God has given me. I’ll remember that all I have is a grace from God. I’ll remember to be a good steward of what I’ve been given—so that others might experience God’s grace, his love, and his generosity, through me. And at the altar, on Thanksgiving, and as Advent begins, I’ll remember the people of the Diocese of Lincoln, and pray that each of us may be blessed with an abundance of gratitude and thanksgiving.