November 24, 2022 –
St. Andrew Dũng-Lạc & Comp.
or Thanksgiving Day
“Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
Jesus issues a sharp challenge to you today. His words might even be described as frightening. Yet Jesus is not preaching fire and brimstone. He’s not preaching, at least directly, about sin and damnation. He is preaching, though, about the worldly desolation of Jerusalem, and signs above and upon earth that will cause people to “die in fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world”.
Many people find the idea of the end of the world very frightening, especially when it’s dramatized in literature or film. The drama is enhanced by the physical destruction of worldly monuments and temples. But physical destruction, no matter how vast the scale, pales in comparison to the destruction of a single human soul.
That phrase is not quite accurate, of course, because a soul can never be destroyed. It would be more accurate to speak of “the destruction of a single human soul’s opportunity for eternal bliss”, or more simply, “the eternal damnation of a single human soul”. Thanks be to God for His sending the Son of Man to redeem man from his sins. This final truth is the reason for Jesus to speak hopefully at the end of today’s Gospel passage. In effect, Jesus preaches that we need not fear the end of the world, or the end of earthly life, because when we place our faith in the Son of Man, we can have full assurance that our redemption is at hand.
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While there are several options of Scripture readings for Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America that may or may not be used for Holy Mass, the First Reading for the weekday in Ordinary Time (from Revelation 18) offers a fitting reflection for this American feast of giving thanks.
Americans traditionally partake of a turkey at their Thanksgiving feast. Christians, through Sacred Tradition, partake of the Paschal Lamb at their Eucharistic feast. In this last week of the Church year, our First Reading is coming from the Book of Revelation. There, St. John the Evangelist describes what Heaven is like. Heaven is an eternal celebration of the Paschal Feast. We become one with God through the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb.
Part of this eternal feast is an everlasting act of thanksgiving to God for all He has given us, not least of which is the opportunity of eternal life, living in Him! So we might think of our single day of thanksgiving each November as a preparation for eternal life, where God’s saints share in the eternal “wedding feast of the Lamb”.