Today is Thanksgiving Day, a day officially established by President Abraham Lincoln to give thanks to God ever since the Civil War. As it is the only day in the American civil calendar set aside to expressly thank God, even the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America eases the Nativity Fast to allow for a ‘traditional’ turkey meal. Over the years the holiday has taken a nearly totally secular character with focus on football games and shopping sprees.
As you gather today with family and friends, take a moment and consider to Whom you are giving thanks. From Whom did you receive the blessings for which you are thankful? For what are you thankful? Money? Education? Career? Health? While all these things individually make for a blessed life on earth, they are far from what we should be focused upon today.
Don’t be blinded by earthly blessings so that you ignore spiritual blessings. As Orthodox Christians, we are in the midst of the Nativity Fast, though today you may not be concentrating on the Fast, and our goal is to prepare to receive Christ into our lives. Today’s Gospel (you can read the entire passage below) reading may not speak about giving thanks, but it most definitely offers a truth for which we should be thankful. “Everything that is written of the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” What was it that was written?
God would send His Son to save us from death. That is what we should be thankful for today, rather than material blessings. Because Christ was “delivered to the Gentiles” we are able to live eternally with Christ in Heaven. Because He joined us to Himself, though we will die, we will rise with Him; enough for anyone to thank God today.
At that time, Jesus, taking his twelve disciples, said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; they will scourge him and kill him, and on the third day he will rise." But they understood none of these things; this saying was hid from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18.31-34)