It is singularly appropriate that, on this weekend traditionally kept as Thanksgiving weekend, that the readings for theSunday mass, also speak about giving thanks. In fact ,the very word we use nowadays for Mass, eucharist, literally means “thanksgiving”.In the central prayer of the mass , the eucharistic prayer, the priest, on our behalf, gives thanks to God for all He has done for us : creating us, redeeming us, sanctifying us, in a word : saving us. When we give thanks to God like this, we are acknowledging that, as sinners, we do not deserve any of these incredible gifts from God.
In our first reading and our gospel, two people, who would not ordinarily consider themselves worthy to receive anything from Israel’s God , do in fact obtain the mercy they ask for . In the first reading, the army commander, Naaman is healed of his leprosy at the intervention of the Israeli prophet Elisha. As a result, he solemnly declares that the God of Israel is the only true God and that henceforth he will worship only Him. In the gospel, the Samaritan, who was considered a half-breed by the Jews, receives healing of his leprosy from Jesus , the Jewish Messiah, and in so doing realizes something that the other nine Jewish lepers, also healed, miss altogether: that this Jesus is not only a miracle -worker, but is also the Son of God. So he worships him in thanksgiving , and Jesus tells him because of this declaration of faith , he has received something more than just a physical healing. He has come into salvation-forgiveness of sins, eternal life, adoption as a son of God.
This Thanksgiving, apart from all the other things we might want to give thanks for, let us especially praise and thank God for showing mercy to us, when we do not deserve it, in giving us the precious gift of faith for salvation. The best way of doing this is to attend Mass, the Eucharist, the thanksgiving celebration.