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The gift of family
November 7, 2011
by Father Tom Balluff, St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, Delano

In the Gospel, we hear stories of many different healings that Jesus performs. One that I would like to focus on as we approach the Thanksgiving Day holiday is the story of the 10 lepers.

“…and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Ten lepers were cured and only one returned to give thanks to Jesus. This just doesn’t seem right.

Where are the other nine? Are we to believe that they were not thankful for the great gift of healing given to them?

Thanksgiving is one of the most important times to remember our blessings and to thank God for them. Most of us will be spending time with our families, both immediate and distant, and it is always important to realize that although we love our families very much, there is almost always at least a little tension or conflict that arises.

As families, we grew up together with our parents, and our brothers and sisters. They knew us from our beginning, are aware of many of our frailties, and probably have seen us at both our best and our worst.

Our family relationships are oftentimes more intense than other relationships, and how we relate with family now may oftentimes have roots that go way back to when we were kids. So it is important for us to realize this, and strive to rise above any tension and conflict, knowing that there will probably be some.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for the many gifts that God has given to us, especially our imperfect families. God loves us infinitely. He loves us unconditionally. He loves us more than we could ever imagine or comprehend. There is nothing that we could ever do, that could stop God from loving us . . . even when we are not thankful, God still continues to love and pursue us.

Some of us may have lost a loved one, a family member or a close friend. Our Christian faith does not take away sadness or pain. However, it does allow us to see beyond these losses, to be able to cope with and persevere and ultimately, learn to soar, or experience that peace and joy that only God can give, which can be ours through our faith, trust, and love of God.

We can see, and we have a deep-seated hope that Christ’s victory over sin and death will also be ours in the end. So we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, no matter what the situation may bring.

We give thanks to the Father for sending His Son to be Our Lord and Savior by his dying and rising; and for the constant assistance of the Holy Spirit, who equips us to witness and to persevere, through His seven gifts given at confirmation.

We give thanks for the Eucharist, which is both sacrifice and sacrament, because we are healed and strengthened by this heavenly food and drink. This is Jesus’ real presence in us that will transform us if we allow Him to.

As the popular Psalm 23 says, we are called to walk by faith even through the dark valley, that we are called to persevere even when times get tough. We give thanks to God’s mercy made tangible in a special way every time we celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation.

Our families are great gifts to us to be cherished and loved, with that same Christ-like love that comes from God himself. So let us be open to our Lord this Thanksgiving Day holiday, that we might put Jesus first, and allow him to not only transform us, but especially to transform our families through us.

The word Eucharist means, literally, “thanksgiving.” Let us have that attitude, that disposition of thankfulness to every gift that God gives us, especially the ones found in our families. They are a special gift to us to be held in high esteem, knowing they are not perfect, but certainly worthy of our deep love.