How To Render Perfect Thanks: A Homily for the 28th Sunday of the Year

101213One of the great human inadequacies is rendering proper and adequate thanks to God. Perhaps the biggest problem is that we don’t even know 90% of what he does for us. It is hid from our eyes.

A further problem is that we tend, in our fallen condition, to be wired to magnify our distresses and problems and minimize or discount the enormous blessings of each moment. God sustains every fiber of our being and every atom of creation, his hidden blessings  are countless. But we get angry if our iPod is malfunctioning or if one or two out of the trillion blessings he gives is withdrawn.

But in the end an old gospel song says it well:

 I’ve got so much to thank God for; So many wonderful blessings  and so many open doors. A brand new mercy along with each new day. That’s why I praise You and for this I give You praise. For waking me up this morning , For starting me on my way, For letting me see the sunshine, of a brand new day. That’s why I praise You and for this I give You praise. So many times You´ve met my needs, So many times You rescued me. That’s why I praise You.

For every mountain You brought me over  For every trial you’ve seen me through.  For every blessing, For this I give You praise

Fundamental Question – So here is the question at the heart of today’s Gospel. It is best asked in the Book of Psalms: What return shall I make to the Lord for all the good he has done for me? The same psalm goes on to answer the question in this way: The cup of salvation I will take up and call on the name of the Lord. (Psalm 116:12)

The Mass is signified – Yes indeed, how can I possibly thank the Lord for all the good he has done for me? Notice that the psalm points to the Eucharist in saying, The cup of salvation I will take up….”  As you know the word “Eucharist” is a Greek  word which means, “thanksgiving.” We cannot thank God the Father adequately, but Jesus can. And in every Mass we join our meager thanksgiving to his perfect thanksgiving. Jesus takes up the cup of salvation and shows it to us at every Mass through the priest. This is the perfect and superabundant thanks that only Jesus can offer the Father. And he joins us to his perfect sacrifice of thanks in every Mass. This is how we give thanks in a way commensurate with the manifold blessings we have received.

Hidden Mass! – Now the Gospel for today makes this point, that the Mass is the perfect offering of thanks to the Father, in a remarkable and almost hidden way. But for Catholics it is right there for us to see if we have eyes to see it. For the Gospel today contains all the essential elements of Holy Mass. In so doing, this Gospel about giving thanks reminds us once again that it is the Mass which is the perfect thanksgiving, the perfect  “Eucharist.” Let’s look and see how it is a Mass:

  1. Gathering – Notice first that there is a gathering. Ten lepers (us) have gathered and Jesus comes near as he passes on his way. We do this in every Mass, we gather and the Lord draws near. Indeed, in the person of the priest, who is the sacrament, the sign of his presence, Jesus walks the aisle of our Church just like he walked those ancient roads.
  2. Kyrie – Next they cry out for mercy just like we do at every Mass: Lord have mercy! Jesus, Master, have pity on us!
  3. Liturgy of the Word – Next Jesus quotes Scripture and then applies it to their life  just like he does for us at every Mass. In saying, “Go show yourselves to the priests”  Jesus is referencing Leviticus 14 which gives detailed instructions on how the priests of old were to diagnose leprosy and also its having been cured. Jesus quotes this scripture and applies it to their life. This is what we do at every Mass wherein God’s Word is proclaimed and then the Lord Jesus, speaking through the priest or deacon, applies the text(s) to our life.
  4. Liturgy of the Eucharist – Next, the text says that one of them: fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. This is what we do during the Eucharistic prayer, we kneel and thank Jesus, and also, with Jesus,  give thanks to the Father. As we have noted, the word “Eucharist”  comes from Greek and means “to give thanks.” Here is the perfect thanks rendered to the Father. To those who say they can stay home and give adequate thanks to God, there should only be the rebuke that they are prideful. Only Jesus can give perfect thanks to the Father. And we can only give adequate thanks to Jesus by following his command to “do this in memory of me.” We have to be at Mass.
  5. Ite Missa est – Finally, Jesus sends him on his way, saying  Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.  We too are sent forth by Jesus at the end of every Mass when He speaks through the priest or deacon: “The Mass is ended, God in peace.”

So, there it is. In this Gospel that very clearly instructs us to give thanks to God is the very structure of the Mass. If you want to give proper thanks to God and you made it to Mass this morning, you’re in the right place. Only here is perfect and proper thanks given to God.

It was all prefigured in the psalm long ago:  What return shall I make to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?  The cup of salvation I will take up and call on the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:12).  It is the very cup of salvation, the chalice containing Christ’s blood that is held up at every Mass. It is the perfect sacrifice of thanks. It is the prescribed sacrifice of praise. It is the proper sacrifice of praise.

This video is of the Song I quoted above:

9 Replies to “How To Render Perfect Thanks: A Homily for the 28th Sunday of the Year”

  1. It is true that we do not know how to pray or what to pray, but in the Mass, even the laity, are able to take some part in a prayer that is well beyond all of our capacity for prayer.

  2. The Mass is a hidden and mystical holocaust of suffering offered up for our infinite benefit, and the earth could sooner exist without the sun than it could without this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which keeps the gates of heaven open and the world in it’s constant cosmic place. Thanks be to God and His Blessed Son and His Holy Mother, Mary, for this infinite grace, truly the Gift that keeps on giving. For lucifier, if he could, would snuff it all out, but is restrained by the continual sacrificial offering that IS the Holy Mass. God Bless all.

  3. In Nigeria, the Roman Catholics have a special predilection for a Chaplet called “Eucharistic chaplet” ,with your esposition i now come to understand the reasons of this consist of 10 decades of beads in 20places,it’s prayer is simple;EVERY DAY SAY THANK YOU JESUS, THANK YOU LORD 1000 times (in 17minutes ) you’RE DONE , NEVER BE TOO LAZY TO SAY IT.

  4. It is true, what we owe God is immeasuable. No matter what I say or do it can’t possible be enough. Let’s hope the effort itself is enough. Great post Monsignor.

  5. I love how you bring together different readings together and break open the Word for us, Father. Thank you, and thank You.

  6. At mass this past week, the sound was poor, such that I wasn’t able to fully hear the homily. I wanted to chew on the Gospel, I marveled at Christ’s mercy, as He does not revoke the cure from the other 9, He heals them all and in free will, one returns. But I left the mass pondering and still hungry, feeling as if somehow, I didn’t quite get to understand something more from my experience. Reading about the hidden mass, seeing it so beautifully laid out as the reality of every mass, I can only say “Thank you.” Now, I feel full.

  7. Msgr. Pope, i love that song-For Every Mountain. It does indeed help remind us of many many blessings we overlook in life. We most likely could in truth, circle the globe 3 times at least with all the blessings great and small He so graciously bestows on us. How many of us remember the things that did not happen since we woke this morning? We woke sane, we didn’t fall or slip in tub or shower. We did not slice ourselves in preparing breakfast. we did not trip and fall, get assaulted, have a coronary or stroke. We did not cease breathing. All of these things could well have happened to us, but didn’t.

    The Mass is the ultimate thanksgiving. Yet, we need to continue throughout our days to always be consuming this glorious bread in our walk with Christ. At home, work or play, we should be constantly feasting on the depths and riches of the Bread of life, Jesus Christ.

  8. One can thank God, when waking up, for life, love and community. I am blessed enough to enjoy all three. To the extent that material blessings exist, they are to be used for others.
    We also need to thank God for particular blessings in our lives, even including children who have died. Cancer took one of my daughters before her 45th birthday; but I thank God for the gift she was, while on this earth, and many memories.

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