A blessed Thanksgiving holiday!
A fitting occasion, is it not, for me to praise God for all of you, for your faith, and your allegiance to Jesus and His Church?
This week provides us an inspirational convergence of feasts.
Last Sunday, the final one of the Church’s year, was the Feast of Christ the King; today, Thursday, is Thanksgiving; and Sunday brings in the start of a new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent.
I’m hardly surprised these three all tidily tie together.
On Thanksgiving, we acknowledge gratefully God’s good bounty to us. Visitors from afar are astounded—pleasantly—how this Thursday is a “holy day” for Americans, whom they perceive, inaccurately, as godless secularists. This “one nation under God” comes together as families, neighbors, and friends to praise the “God in whom we trust” for not letting us down, as individuals, as a nation. That’s good...that’s sacred...that is beautiful...that is biblical...that is human...that is American.
In doing so, we acknowledge that, in reality, someone else is in charge. Sure, we have our freedom, talents, and significant part to play, but, in the end, history—our own and our nation’s—is His-story! As any recovering addict will tell you, “There is a God, and I’m not He!”
This sturdy belief in God and His watchful providence has been a characteristic of our country for centuries. To acknowledge it gratefully brings humility, trust, serenity, faith, peace...and a yearning for the charity and justice God’s providence nurtures.
For us as followers of Jesus in His Church, our thanks is not to a generic deity, an impersonal, cosmic force, but to the one true God, who revealed Himself to Israel as their sovereign, the Lord, and who took flesh, became one of us, in Jesus Christ, whom we acclaim as our true King! For a nation that gained its independence by overthrowing a King, that title may not be the best! But, we know what the word means, and admit it says it all. Jesus Christ is our Lord, our sovereign, our ruler, our best friend, the most important person in our lives, who gives us meaning, purpose, salvation, grace, and mercy. Christ is our King!
Without Him, we can do nothing; with our King, there is nothing we cannot do.
As our Latino neighbors chant, “Long live Christ our King!”
Christ our King will return to us at the end of time, but He is alive and with us now in and through His Church. This King comes to us!
Which brings us to Advent! This is our festive season, four weeks in duration, of spiritual preparation for Christmas. “It’s the most beautiful time of the year!” as Andy Williams tells us.
These are the weeks we contemplate the coming of Christ our King, for whose providence and care we are most thankful.
The comings of our King are triple:
He came 2016 years ago, in history, in a crib in a stable at Bethlehem, born of a humble virgin, Mary, watched over by a loving foster father, Joseph, God’s-only-begotten-son, Jesus, our Lord, Savior, and King, on the day we now call Christmas, and prepare for in Advent.
He comes right now, actually, whenever we ask Him to enter our lives through prayer. He arrives in our faith, His grace—His very life in our souls— His mercy, His Holy Word in the Bible, in and through His Church, in her sacraments, teaching, and unity; He comes in love, His for us, ours for Him, and for others, especially the poor, forgotten, suffering, and sick.
And, Christ our King will come...He’ll come for us personally at the hour of our death; He’ll come for all of us at the end of the world, what we call His “second coming”—the first was Christmas—as Judge, King, of the living and the dead.
Well, by now the turkey is ready, but I hope I’ve made my point: Thanksgiving is that touching day we gratefully praise the loving, caring God who entered our lives as Jesus Christ, whom we acclaim our King, and whose coming—in history that first Christmas; in mystery every moment, even now; and in majesty at the end of time—we prepare for during Advent.
Doesn’t it all make sense?