Every day is a good day to give thanks to God, especially on Thanksgiving no matter if that day has been good or bad or if our life has been good or bad in our minds.
Today’s reading from the Gospel of Mark provides an example of a man who found it easy to give thanks because of an encounter with Jesus and it as well provides an example of a group of people who not only didn’t find it easy to give thanks to God but who wanted Jesus to get away from them.
The man in the gospel reading was seen to be possessed by evil spirits because of the way he acted. According to the gospel verses which preceded today’s reading, the whole region was non-Jewish as was the possessed man. He lived in a cemetery and no one could restrain even with chains. In fact he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains which he broke or shattered. No one was strong enough to subdue him. As the story goes, night and day he was heard crying out, ripping his clothes off, and bruising himself with stones.
As we heard if today’s reading, when Jesus was getting out of the boat on Lake Galilee, that man ran up to Jesus, knelt down and shouted, “Jesus, Son of God in heaven, what do you want of me? Promise me in God’s name, that you won’t torture me or send me away!” As the story continued, Jesus subsequently was able to drive the many evil spirits out the man and send them into the nearby 2000 pigs. The pigs then ran down the steep bank, into the lake and drowned. Needless to say, the man gave thanks to God and begged to go along with Jesus. Jesus refused his request and told him that it would be better for him to go to his family and tell them and everyone what Jesus had done. Essentially, Jesus wanted the man to become a disciple of his.
Then we have the people of the town who had witnessed the man who had been full of demons who was now sitting there with his clothes on and in his right mind. They as well saw the 2000 drowned pigs. Their response was not to thank God for the cure of the man but rather begged Jesus to leave their part of the country before he would shock them any more. They concluded that they would rather cope with a violent man and forego the blessings Jesus could bring into their lives as he had shown he could do by curing the man with the demons.
If you and I were those people, what would we have done?
Looking at Scripture we see many people who were willing to forego financial gain in order to follow Jesus and be able to thank God for the many blessing they received even though I am sure there were times when they wondered if it was worth it, like all the apostles who gave up professions like fishing and tax collecting. Even today there are examples of people in business who are willing to forego financial gain in order to live the commandments, that is, like being honest in their business dealings.
Do we have the intestinal fortitude to follow Jesus and thank him when that would result in a financial hardship? We have the opportunity to follow Jesus in our daily lives and to give thanks to God for our many blessings even though some of them are not easy to accept, recognizing that God is in everything that happens in our life and that he promises to provide whatever is needed for us to accept the good, the difficult and the bad.
Thanksgiving is the ideal time to thank God for all of our lives, for the help in handling the difficult and the bad they contain and as well helping us to identify the long term good in everything.