Let us give thanks to the Lord our God!
These words we take from the very heart of the Eucharistic liturgy. Eucharist means thanksgiving. Today, as we meet around this altar, our first desire is to give thanks…
Our sacrifice and our prayer in union with the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ - in the sacramental identification with him - is above all a great act of thanksgiving by the Church.
We give thanks for all the richness of creation.
…we cry aloud with the Psalmist: "How good is the Lord to all, / compassionate to all his creature. / All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord, / and your friends shall repeat their blessing. / They shall speak of the glory of your reign and declare your might O God" (Ps. 145 (144), 9-11).
And as we praise God for the beauty of nature…let us reread with eyes of faith the testimony borne by created things: in this way our minds and hearts turn to him who on the seventh day saw what he had made and "it was very good" (Gen. 1, 31).
Our thanksgiving rises from created things to God himself.We thank God for his existence: for the fact that he is God, for his Godhead, for his omnipotence and holiness, for his truth and love, for his eternal plan for the salvation of man and the world.
We thank the Father for the Son and the Holy Spirit. We thank the Son for the Father. We thank the Holy Spirit because through the love of the Father and the Son he is the uncreated Gift: the source of all the gifts of created grace.
The Apostle Paul writes: "This is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name: Out of his infinite glory may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong" (Eph. 3, 14-16).
Man looks into his own heart, into "the hidden self," and he offers up thanksgiving to the very mystery of the Godhead. For he, man, has been created "in the image and likeness of God" (Gen. 1, 26), and he is now called for this reason to give particular thanksgiving. We give thanks to God for the fact that he is God in whom is found the eternal Model of our human essence. We thank him for the Godhead, for the inscrutable mystery of the Trinity, for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We give thanks for everything that is the work and fruit of grace, whereby human hearts share in the intimate life of God himself.
For this is how Paul continues to write: ". . . so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and length, the height and depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3, 17-19).
We give thanks to God for the fact that he is God: for this absolute fullness that he is.
And we also give thanks for this dimension of our humanity, which is our sharing in God’s nature, in the intimate life of God.
We give thanks for grace and holiness. In a particular way for the grace and holiness that in the course of the centuries has been shared in and continues to be shared in by the sons and daughters of this land: "Bless the God of all things, / the doer of great deeds everywhere, / who has exalted our days from the womb / and acted toward us according in his mercy" (Sir. 50, 22).
Indeed, we give thanks for the fact that he, God, allows us, human beings, to share in the messianic mission of Jesus Christ, his eternal Son who became man. We thank him for the fact that he has made us the People of God and has sealed our mission on earth with the priestly, prophetic and royal seal through our sharing in the mission of Christ himself.
Christ says to us in today’s Gospel: "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? . . . You are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lampstand where it shines for everyone in the house" (Matt. 5, 13. 15).
These are eloquent words, demanding words. And in the light of these words we give thanks for our Christian vocation.
We wish to understand this vocation in all its different forms, and to penetrate it with the light of faith and of our life-blood. We want to fulfill it. We truly want to fulfill it!
How else can we express our thanks for the gift of our vocation in Jesus Christ?
We offer a very special act of thanksgiving at this time for our Christian families. In union with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, we thank the Father "from whom every family takes its name."
…Yes, we give thanks and praise to God our Father for all the Christian families - and they are a mighty legion - who listen to those life-giving words of Jesus Christ his Son: "Your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5, 16).