Thanksgiving Eve & Day
November 23-24, 2016
St. Luke 17:11-19
We are not here tonight to learn good manners. If thanksgiving is merely a day to say a polite "Thank You" for the things we have been given, then we could just email in a Thank You Note to church saying: "Dear God, thank you for the nice sweater and the new video game and all that stuff."
Of course we should thank God and give Him glory for even the smallest little gifts He gives us such as each breath and every heartbeat all the way up to the biggest gifts He gives us: His Son and the forgiveness of sins. But what does it mean to be thankful?
To be thankful is to have faith. To be thankful to the Lord is to do as the Samaritan did: come back for more. Be where Jesus is. Believe and trust that Jesus is the only one who can and will take care of us. To put it another way: Being truly thankful to our Lord isn't about being polite. It's about clinging to Jesus because only our Lord will take care of us and save us and give us everlasting life.
I suppose that band of lepers is pretty typical of most people. They want something from God. They get something from God and then they don't need Him anymore until the next thing goes wrong. You know how it is: When everything's going well and you're healthy and have a job and your marriage is fine and your kids are doing well and there's money in the bank—when all that's going on, you don't really need the Lord. But when trouble comes, or you get sick, or financial trouble hits—then suddenly its time to make deals with the Lord. To suddenly start praying a whole bunch. You might even start feeling guilty that you're having problems precisely because you weren't doing those things faithfully. That's Nine Lepers thinking! Repent! The nine lepers had a nasty, gross skin disease. They needed Jesus to heal them. So He did and then they were done with Him. They got what they wanted and until the next bad thing happens they won't come looking for Jesus.
But the Samaritan, as soon as he realized he was clean, cured of his leprosy, ran back to Jesus. Why? That's faith. Faith says, "Jesus healed me”. The Samaritan learns and knows that the only guy who can help him is Jesus. Jesus gives healing. Jesus gives life. Where Jesus is, there is life. The Samaritan knows that Jesus has more gifts. He clings to Jesus. That's true gratitude, true thankfulness: to receive the gifts of Christ and expect that He has more for you.
Ten lepers were healed. But only one was saved. "Go, your faith has saved you," Jesus tells the Samaritan. What happened to the other nine? I don't know. All I know is that the Samaritan was saved because Jesus said so. What is the faith that saved Him? Jesus. Jesus is telling Him: You asked me for help and I healed you. And you have learned by the Holy Spirit to come back and expect everything good from me."
That's your salvation too, to to be where Jesus is and to glorify Him by receiving His good gifts. So be thankful! Come to hear His Word preached. Come to the font and remember you ARE baptized. Come to the feast as often as you can. Live as the Catechism teaches, that is, run to the Lord and spread wide your blanket or cloak so you can receive every good gift in Jesus. In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.