This was the homily I gave to our elementary school on Thursday the 18th of November, their "Thanksgiving" Mass--they've got the entire week of Thanksgiving off--something I never got as a child, but I'm thankful nonetheless!
You know, it is easy to give thanks to God for the good things we receive in life. I hope you thank God and your parents, for your home, your food, your education and all the nice clothes and toys you have.
I hope you thank God for your school, your friends and your teachers and everyone who wants you to be the best you can be.
I hope you thank God for your church, your priests and ministers and for all the people who pray for you.
But do we thank God for the bad things that happen to us?
Do you thank God for the "F" you got on your test that warns you that you must study, do your homework and go to bed on time if you want to make a better grade?
Do you thank God for your parents and teachers who punish you when you do wrong because without that punishment you might think that you could do anything you please, right or wrong?
Do you thank God that when someone you love dies, that Jesus Christ has opened the gates of heaven to them?
Do you thank God that you don’t have everything you want so that you can feel what those who have nothing feel like? Do you thank God that when you see poor children who have much less than you that you can help them by giving them some of what you have?
Do you thank God that he teaches you to think about the needs of others rather than just thinking about what you want?
On that first Thanksgiving, the pilgrims had suffered through the cold of winter with little heat and comfort, many of them became very ill and suffered greatly. A good number of them died. They were hungry and missed their homes in Europe. Yet on the first Thanksgiving, they were grateful to God for all the blessings they had receive, for their friends the Indians who taught them what crops to plant and how to make use of the good things of the land in this country. They gave thanks to God for their loved ones, living and dead and they asked God to help them to make a great land.
Thanksgiving is a gift and our ability to give thanks is a gift from God too. Let us always give thanks to God in good times and in bad.