Thanksgiving

One of our motivations for "offering it up" is thanksgiving. Though we offer up the frustrations, irritations, hardships, sorrows, and sufferings of our day because of the assurance that they play a role in Christ's ongoing work of salvation (see Colossians 1: 24), we do so also out of a strong of gratitude.

This idea of making a grateful sacrificial offering of our lives can be found in the First Letter of John. "The way we came to know love was that he [Jesus] laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters" (3:16). And John continues: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he love us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. ... We love because he first loved us" (4: 7-10, 19).

In other words, our offering is a response to Jesus' loving sacrificial offering of himself. We do so in thanksgiving.

I thought of this yesterday at our community Eucharist when Fr. John Laurance, S.J., the principal celebrant, quoted from an early document in U.S. history. In 1777, at the beginning of our nation's War of Independence, the U.S. Continental Congress issued a declaration calling for a Day of Thanksgiving. In doing so they stated:

"For as much as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, ...it is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor...."

I couldn't help thinking: this is what it means to "live a Eucharistic life." Aware of God's many blessings, we show our gratitude by making an offering of ourselves to God, consecrating ourselves to His service. Thanksgiving leads to offering.