How to Give God Perfect Thanks: A Homily for the 28th Sunday of the Year

blog-10816One of the great human inadequacies is our inability to give proper and adequate thanks to God. Perhaps the biggest problem is that we don’t even realize the vast majority of what He does for us; it is hidden from our eyes. 

A further problem is that in our fallen condition we seem to be wired to magnify our problems and minimize or discount the enormous blessings of each moment. God sustains every fiber of our being and every atom of creation. God’s blessings are countless and yet we get angry if our iPhone malfunctions or if a few of His myriad blessings are withdrawn.

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 – The question at the heart of today’s Gospel is best expressed 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 – 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 meaning “thanksgiving.” We cannot thank God our Father adequately, but Jesus can. In every Mass, we join our meager thanksgiving to His perfect thanksgiving. Through the priest, Jesus takes up the cup of salvation and shows it to us at every Mass. This is the perfect and superabundant thanks to the Father that only Jesus can offer. In every Mass, Jesus joins us to His perfect sacrifice of thanks. That is how we give thanks in a way commensurate with the manifold blessings we have received. 

Hidden Mass! – The Gospel for today makes the 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. Today’s Gospel contains all the essential elements of Holy Mass. It is about giving thanks and reminds us once again that it is the Mass that is the perfect thanksgiving, the perfect “Eucharist.”

Let’s look and see how it is a Mass:

  1. Gathering – Ten lepers (symbolizing 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. In the person of the priest, who is the sacrament, the sign of His presence, Jesus walks the aisle of our church just as He walked those ancient roads.
  1. Kyrie – The lepers cry out for mercy, just as we do at every Mass. Lord, have mercy! Jesus, Master, have pity on us!
  1. Liturgy of the Word – Jesus quotes Scripture and then applies it to their lives, just as He does for us at every Mass. (In saying, “Go show yourselves to the priests,” Jesus is referencing Leviticus 13, which gives detailed instructions on how the priests of old were to diagnose leprosy or its having been cured.) Yes, this is what we do at every Mass: we listen to the Lord Jesus, through the priest or deacon, proclaiming God’s Word and then applying it to our lives.
  1. Liturgy of the Eucharist – The Gospel relates 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 along with Him, give thanks to the Father. As we have noted, the word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek and means “thanksgiving.” Here is the perfect thanks rendered to the Father. Those who claim that they can stay home and give adequate thanks to God should be rebuked for being prideful. Only Jesus can give perfect thanks to the Father, and we can only give adequate thanks by following Jesus’ command to “Do this in memory of me.” We have to be at Mass.
  1. Ite, missa est – Finally, Jesus sends the thankful leper 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, go in peace.”

So, there it is. Within this Gospel, which 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, the right place to do it is at Mass. Only at Mass 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). Yes, 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.

4 Replies to “How to Give God Perfect Thanks: A Homily for the 28th Sunday of the Year”

  1. Thank you, Monsignor for reminding me to give thanks to God through the Mass. I so often ‘tell’ God about all my troubles but neglect to thank Him adequately. Thank you for teaching me that I can thank Him through the Eucharist.

  2. The best thanksgiving to God is to no longer sin. That is why Jesus’ Self-Sacrifice is Holy: He didn’t just die, He died out of love for God and man as the God-Man. That is why the Eucharist is Thanksgiving and Praise: to thank and praise God by not sinning.

    Hence Jesus’ complaints about our ingratitude to Saints Margaret Mary, Gertrude, and Faustina – among others – and hence Jesus telling Saint Hildegard that Creation praises Him by its existence and workings (He meant to humble her: if a tree does not sin against God, than how can a Christian?).

  3. As of a few weeks, I was asking myself,am I giving enough thanks to our Lord and am I doing it right for all the blessings his laid before me.

    Thank you Msg – Praise God, you have answered my question that has been weighing down on me.

  4. Oh, that I may thank HIM all the moments of my life. Let everything I do declare my thanksgiving to HIM Who of Whom we live and move and have our being. May I not forget this for my very breath is an automatic act of my body that shouts I am HIS. During the MASS, all of heaven and earth anticipate the Great Reversal and in expectation HE brings us into a higher and higher level of understanding and faith of HIS Mercy, Love and Grace. Baruch SHALOM, Monsignor, thank you for this post.

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