Because it is always a bit of a mystery to foresee what the readings should be in today's liturgy I decided to prepare a very brief reflection on the beautiful Preface which has been approved for Mass on this uniquely American celebration.
The Preface compares God's chosen people with Americans, some people think this is an exaggeration, but I don't.
Listen to some of the passages from the Preface:
Once you chose a people and gave them a destiny and, when you brought them out of bondage to freedom, they carried with them the promise that all men would be blessed and all men could be free.
What the prophets pledged was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, your Son and our saving Lord. It has come to pass in every generation for all men who have believed that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, gave them a new freedom in his Spirit.
It happened to our fathers, who came to this land as if out of the desert into a place of promise and hope. It happens to us still, in our time, as you lead all men through your Church to the blessed vision of peace.
The United States has been called the great "melting pot" –and, to a certain extent it is, but it is even more a mosaic, many colors and many cultures in one beautiful expression of unity with diversity: e pluribus, unum, I mean, out of many, one.
Today, in the middle of the mass and looking to heaven, we have to recognize ourselves to be stewards and not masters of the abundance and of the freedom with which we have been blessed; in the gospel the Samaritan gives us a wonderful example of prompt gratitude. The person who has a grateful heart –and who expresses it in a sincere way- builds strong friendships. That applies not only on a human level, but also to our communication with God.
Today I am extremely grateful to be not only a Catholic, but a priest working in the United States of America, and specifically in St. Matthew. God has been so good with me. I thank God for my faith and for my freedom, and for the fact that I am developing my priesthood in nation which, with all its faults, is still justly viewed as a land of opportunity, a beacon of hope in an often despairing world. Help me to give thanks to the Lord.
On this Thanksgiving Day, we thank our Heavenly Father, and we pray fervently, God bless America! ■
Ilustration: Jean-François Millet (1814-1875), The Angelus (Between 1857 and 1859), Oil on canvas, H. 55.5; W. 66 cm, Paris, Musée d'Orsay, bequest of Alfred Chauchard, 1909.