Here was the homily (more or less) I gave this morning at the school Mass for Thanksgiving:
Now, you all will be giving thanks tomorrow for all the things in your lives that God has given you – your families, friends, teachers, etc. But, what I want to know is what things about your Catholic Christian faith are you thankful for? For me, I am thankful for the priesthood – for all of the priests who have helped me in my life, and that I am a priest. So, what things about your Catholic faith are you all thankful for? (“The chance to get to Heaven”…“the saints”…”Jesus”) Those are all great answers! Yes, it’s important to be thankful for the great things of our faith.
Now, how many of you were listening to the Gospel (most hands go up)? That’s really good! So, how many people did God heal? (“10”). Yes. And, how many came back to say thank you? (“One”). That’s right. Jesus says, ‘where did the other nine go?’ I guess they went off somewhere else. Now, another thing that we heard in the Gospel…that God healed these men, the lepers, through priests. God continues to help people through priests.
Some of ask, ‘what do you and Fr. Mike do all day?’ As I have said before, you might think that we sit around and pray all day (going, ‘lalalalalala’…Like, the phone rings and we hear, ‘Fr Mike, Fr Greg, there’s someone on the phone…we just say, ‘can’t talk, we’re praying, ‘lalalalala’). No, we do pray but not all day and not like that. We help people all day. People come to me with their problems. They might be having problems at home or with their families. Sometimes, people have problems with their faith; their faith has gotten weak. I try to help them. It’s like I said at the basketball game the other night, priests give their lives to helping people. God helps people through his priests.
God has given us everything. Do, we say ‘thank you, God’ for all that we have? Do we say, ‘thank you, Jesus’. He has given us everything! The clothes we are wearing, the food that will be on our tables tonight, our families, parents, teachers, friends, our sense of humor – everything. Are we like the one person who comes back to say, ‘thank you, Jesus’, or are we like the nine who don’t? What is the greatest thing to thank Jesus for? (pointing to the Cross) I’ll give you a hint. (“Dying for our sins to be forgiven”). That’s right, dying on the Cross for us.
Today, we celebrate the feast day of St. Cecilia. She died for Jesus. She was a martyr. Red is the color of martyrs; that’s why I am wearing red today. Every day, St. Cecilia said, ‘thank you, Jesus’. When she came to Mass, she stayed after Mass for a few moments to make her prayer of thanksgiving. She said, ‘Jesus, thank you for speaking to us in the readings…thank you for giving us your Body and Blood in the Eucharist.’ She was so thankful for everything that she had received at Mass!
Tomorrow, we will all say, ‘thank you, Jesus’. But, today, we want to start. In a moment, I will count to three, and everyone will say, ‘thank you, Jesus’, out loud. Now, Jesus is close to us in the tabernacle, but I think that the walls and door of the tabernacle are pretty thick, so say it loud enough for him to hear it. He likes to hear ‘thank you’, just like he liked it when the one man cam back to say thanks. OK, here we go…one…two… three: (“THANK YOU, JESUS”). Wow, I think he heard you!! That was really good!!
This is what you want to do tomorrow- say, ‘thank you, Jesus’. Now, you don’t need to go around your house shouting it like you just did (your parents will say, ‘what has Fr. Greg been teaching you?!)! No, you can just say it in your heart and in your mind. You can be like the one leper, you can be like St. Cecilia, you can be like all of the saints, who said ‘thank you, Jesus’ every day. We all should say that every day- he has given us everything. Tomorrow, especially, we all say…one…two…three…THANK YOU, JESUS!!!!!