True Meaning of Thanksgiving

Listening Faithfully Blog 2014 Post

18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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In past posts I have talked about Thanksgiving in the historical sense, explored the religious meaning, and I have delved into both sides of the human drama, (that being of the Native Americans and the English Pilgrims),  from a moral view.  But this year I wanted to write about what it means in a more detailed manner from the general view of family.

The very word, “Family”,  is the root that brought about the fight for freedom both here on Earth and in Heaven. In a broad sense God uses “family” as the template of every social group known to man. In every way we learn and grow from the bounty of our families. But this interaction is not exclusive to humanity rather almost every other bioligal life form that we know of on this planet thrives through lessons learned which both develop and mold such things as character, morality, compassion, survival, and even the idea of justice at some basic level. In the animal kingdom there is social order and hierarchical structures that are put in place to teach and which promotes the survival of the group or family. So in this broad sense family is the root of survival. But what does this hypothesis have to do with Thanksgiving, a man made tradition turned Federal Holiday? Well for this I share a deep secret found throughout the Christian Bible.

God is called the father! What is a father? In olden days a father was the head of the house, the disciplinarian, provider, protector, leader, mentor, teacher, and general supporter of all family activities. The same is true for Priests who are also called father for the same reasons but within a religious context.  Thus, it is from the father our families find a foundation and in this we see God as the head of every family both secular and religious. This structure within our families is from the divine and is pre-programmed into us from the start. In our celebration of family we are celebrating our very nature which we share with the animal kingdom under God. Because we are all related we are told by God to give thanks for the many blessings we receive from the father that which is in heaven from which everything is given. So Thanksgiving is the celebration of both blessings we receive throughout the year and is a celebration of  our families; the survival they provide on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis independent of our religious beliefs.

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In examining Thanksgiving from this perspective I asked my fourth grade students to write seven sentences about what they are thankful for and it is not surprising to me that they overwhelmingly wrote about their families. Few of them wrote about God though I teach in a Private Catholic School. Still fewer mentioned their teachers and the support we give them. Rather the majority was focused on their families love, kindness, sacrifice, and the many things they receive daily from their families. Many of those things are the necessities of life in general. Their paragraphs became evident to me of how we are all programmed by God to need the same things from birth till death. At the core of this need is the family unit!

So this Thanksgiving I celebrate the family in all of its forms be it biological, religious, social, political, economic, traditional and non traditional, friendships, and in a global community of beings sharing the same Earth, the same resources, and sharing the same needs. For it is within God the father’s plan that we celebrate our shared blessings, our shared needs, as well as our differences. Thus, I say to you in Jesus’s name are we to love one another and to jointly celebrate the role our many different types of families provide as it is granted first from God the father who art in heaven.

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Have a joyous Thanksgiving and remember to celebrate all things which are good that God has made.

I also ask that you keep the family and friends of our beloved sister Theresa Marie Mehan, born June 18, 1922 and who went to meet the Our Lord this past November 18, 2014 in your prayers this holiday season. 

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Amen

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