From The Pastor’s Desk
-Thanksgiving Hol”y”day Every Week –
There is a story of a young boy at a beach who swam too far out into the water.
The terrible undertow that day seized him, leaving him totally at the mercy of the powerful current. Hearing his cries for help and seeing the flaying of hands in the far distance, his mother could only utter a brief scream for help before the shock of the situation over-came her. There happened to be a gentleman beside her, early forties who took off like a shot as soon as he heard the boy, diving into the water without so much as a single second to evaluate the dangerous situation. Though in fit shape and an able swimmer: the under-tow was inflicting a severe punishment on the man’s body and stamina. At last reaching the boy and getting him in a firm grip, he swam the distance back to shore!his body one huge muscle burn, his heart beating like a steam engine. After some minutes, the boy was fully revived. The boy’s first instinct after prying himself free from his mother’s arms, was to seek the man who had brought him safely back to his childhood. Finding him at the boardwalk, enjoying some water the boy tugged at the man’s towel. Looking down at the boy and recognizing him at once, he smiled. The boy spoke: “How can I ever thank you for saving my life.” The man simply responded: “Just make sure that you live the rest of your life in such a way that it was worth saving.” This story may remind us of a more powerful and more intense story made famous by Steven Spielberg called “Saving Private Ryan” based on the real life situation of eight soldiers commanded to locate and bring home one Private Ryan whose brothers had al-ready been killed in combat. To save their mother the totality of heartbreak losing all her sons, the army enlisted these men to insure that this situation would not happen. After enduring a grueling D-day campaign, multiple injuries and multiple deaths to find Private Ryan, the men at last succeed in their mission and he eventually returns home to Iowa and his family. The movie concludes with Private James Ryan, now an elderly man surrounded by his wife and some grand kids and he is visiting the graves of some of the men who risked permanent injury and worse death to bring him home. Reflecting on the heroism of these men and the pro-found gratitude for their efforts insuring that he would have the opportunity to start his own family when so many of these men had sacrificed their own, he says to his wife: Tell me I have led a good life. Tell me I’m a good man. Ryan’s Wife: “You are.” Perhaps if one were to be asked the question: What is the foundation of faith? One may reply: love. And that of course would be a fine answer, but if pressed further: what is the foundation of that love. Would any one respond: Gratitude or thanksgiving? Yet as disciples of Jesus Christ this is the fundamental foundation of our lives here on earth. We are reminded of this each time we step into a Church to attend Mass. We attend Mass to receive Jesus Christ who is most fully present in the Eucharist!which is referred to as the source and summit, the essential focal point of our existence. And the word Eucharist means of all things: Thanksgiving. Regardless of what the November calendar might indicate about the Thanksgiving holiday!every Sunday Mass, every Mass for that matter is the celebration of the true and eternal Thanksgiving holiday. Those who attend Mass faithfully share that beautiful gratitude in common with the one cleansed leper who returns to thank Jesus for the gift of his healing. But notice the difference between his particular healing and those of the ungracious nine, a point that Jesus Himself brings to light. The nine are cleansed of a physical infirmity and nothing more is said about them; whereas, to the one who returns Jesus responds: “Your faith has saved you.” More than a bodily cure, this one leper’s encounter with Jesus Christ allows him to experience the fullness of Christ’s love which extends way beyond what is experienced in the flesh into the heart and soul where love has its true residence. Who is to say, that having been cured physically, those other nine may have tried to make up for lost time indulging their bodies with all sorts of so called forbidden pleasures or immoderations, thus further polluting and sickening the state of their souls which matter most and of which are of eternal value. There is no mention by Jesus of their salvation, as though they missed the point entirely of seeking Jesus. We come to Mass, not to keep a third commandment, as though our relationship with God is based on a threat. As there should never be shot gun weddings, nor should there be shot gun communions. We come to Mass to say thank you. We say thank you because Christ, like the ultimate combat soldier swore Himself to His Father’s Mission of saving you and I. And no one had to meet fiercer resistance and had to endure more injuries and suffering than Jesus Christ, the eternal God made Man. He endured the worst this world could unleash upon him!the fury of Satan, sin, suffering and death. We should come to Mass then with the simplicity of a child who looking up into the joy filled eyes of Jesus on the Cross says: How can I ever thank you for saving my life?” To which Christ responds: Allow me into your life completely so that your life is truly worth saving and brings the power of that same saving love to others. And the most radical and incredible thing of all is that when we come to Mass to thank the Trinity for this most precious gift of life in this world and the world to come!we are further gifted with the greatest gift of all. The reception of the Eucharist. How often is it, that when organizing a party that celebrates the awesome sacrifice of the hero it instead becomes a celebration of the life of the one saved? We come to Mass bear-ing to God the gift of our presence, and not wanting to be outdone in generosity He gives us the gift of His Son in the Eucharist so that in essence!we are the life of the party: having received and allowing our-selves to be transformed by He who is the Bread of Life. This is the profound nature of the Mass!which gives us the strength and courage to lead a good life, that life worth saving, being held over for the celebration to come in Eternity where rather than being guests of honor, we will be permanent residents of honor in our Heavenly homes.