Thanksgiving Acknowledges Our Dependency on Others, God
By Bishop David J. Malloy
This coming week we celebrate Thanksgiving. In our national history, the origin of this celebration is linked to gathering of the pilgrims with the Native Americans they encountered upon their arrival in the New World.
President George Washington proclaimed a day of thanks in 1789 during his presidency. Our observance of the national holiday was initiated under President Abraham Lincoln in October of 1863, right in the midst of our Civil War.
It is an appropriate aspect of our humanity to feel gratitude. It does not come naturally, of course. To observe small children (and sadly sometimes also adults) is to note that our sinful nature can default to an attitude of taking and receiving in isolation. 
Think of fish in an aquarium who come to the surface when their food is poured on the water so they can take the food, run away and consume, and then look for more. Those fish feel no pull to acknowledge the giver, only what has been given. Human nature can be tempted to live on that lower level of existence.
Without gratitude, we are in fact less than human. And spiritually, unless we thank God we remain woefully incomplete in knowing Him, our world and ourselves. 
To give thanks is to acknowledge the reality that each one of us is continually in a state of need and dependency, which is most obvious at the beginning and the end of life. 
But in fact, at all stages of life, the human person must reach out to others to obtain what he or she needs for well-being.
In that sense, someone else is always more powerful than we are. Someone holds the food, the clothing, the medical care or even the love and support that we need. When we receive those goods, an exchange has taken place that affects both parties. 
From the giver’s surplus, and sometimes even from their own need, they share with one who has greater need. In this way the giver grows in generosity and the imitation of God’s goodness. 
The one who receives must learn to acknowledge their lack and not to accept in a spirit of anger or of presumption. 
Even if they have received something owed them in justice, like water to a thirsty person, still the exchange leaves the receiver needing to fulfill a further element of justice. That is the acknowledgement of the goodness of the one who has given.
The great story in the Gospel of the 10 lepers follows this pattern. The 10 men were deformed and disfigured. Even more, they were outcast because of the fear and revulsion related to their disease. 
They knew that there was something in Jesus that they both wanted and needed. They thought it only related to their bodies, but more deeply they had needs in their souls.
They cried out to Jesus who didn’t approach or touch them but told them to show themselves to the priest. 
They may have left disappointed, but their faith was tested. Only by following Jesus’s command did they receive what they lacked ... healing.
Nine then became distracted in some way or other. They did not return to acknowledge the end of their need, the fulfillment of their desire. One did. He fell at the feet of Jesus and was made whole as a result.
On Thanksgiving, we should seek to truly turn our hearts and those of our family to Jesus. How about making it a true day of gratitude by going to meet Jesus, starting the day with Mass as a family?
We may treasure the traditional feast. But we should also thank God if we have family with us to share it. 
And above all, what will we have done prior to or even on Thanksgiving Day to imitate Jesus’s generosity by feeding the hungry?
Our hearts can grow cold when we have so much as in our society. Thanksgiving reminds us that we have great needs, earthly and spiritual. 
God knows them and in His love He takes care of all of our needs if we will allow Him to do so.
Happy Thanksgiving.