By Fr. Rich, O.P.
As I survey the landscape of our world these days, I find myself gravely challenged to engage the virtues of faith or hope. I look to Thanksgiving later this week and find myself wondering, as a Church, if I can be authentically thankful.
In the Gospel, Christ’s prophetic warning, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky,” rings as though we are reading a summary of the nightly news. And this week, from the Cross, Christ offers one more act of forgiveness and mercy.
Throughout our formation as Dominicans, there are occasions when we are asked what we sought; the answer is always, “God’s mercy and yours.” And I suppose that therein lies the answer. The response to the challenges we face in our culture and our Church, the response to where is our thankfulness: it lies always in the relationship that we have with God, in the person of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
If we, as a faith community continue to live out respect for life, to measure our choices in view of how are we loving God, neighbor, and ourselves, then we are solidly grounded in faith, rooted in hope. These are standards that are relevant and real today, anchors that solidly hold against the tempests that threaten to overwhelm us. The famous John 10:10 verse rings loud, clear, and passionately, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
So, I offer this thought as we ponder Thanksgiving: as Catholics, we have been gifted with abundant life. Our life in the triune God’s grace — abundant, relentless; we are immersed in it. However our perceptions of the world around us drive us, this life, this grace, this presence from the Cross are gifts that we are invited to choose, to make our own, again and again. These gifts are never possessed in isolation; they are stronger, more present, more life-giving when experienced in community. Thank you, Father, for creation and grace. Thank you, Son for redemption. Thank you, Spirit, for wisdom and love.
Over our landscapes stand Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This last feast of the liturgical year is infused with all the glory, celebration, and joy that we can muster. “King of the Universe:” everything in the entire realm of our existence is subject to Jesus Christ, God and man. As we celebrate this solemnity next Sunday, we acknowledge the power of His kingship, and we submit ourselves to it, gratefully. For if we turn all that we are and can be over to Christ, we stand empowered ourselves. As Catholics, we are called to “Praise, Preach, Bless.” And if we submit ourselves to the “King of the Universe,” we can live out that Gospel call more fully, more intentionally, and more passionately.
So, celebrate Christ the King, celebrate Thanksgiving. Do so in a personal manner through an acknowledgement of the gifts in which are immersed. Do so standing in the King’s grace and presence. Why?
Bottom line: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” And so we do.
Blessings for Thanksgiving and for God’s grace.