Today’s Thanksgiving readings revolve around, of course, thankfulness. Ben Sira tells us in the first reading to “bless the God of all,” the psalm invokes us to give praise to the Lord forever, Paul gives thanks to God for the Corinthians in his Epistle, and the Gospel is about a Samaritan leper who comes back to thank Jesus after He heals him. The theme of thankfulness is clear!
Sometimes, I find it very difficult to find the strength or reason to thank God,
between the political tension in our country, COVID, and even, at times, division within the Catholic Church and its leaders and members. I got married in October of this year. COVID caused me to modify my wedding reception and honeymoon.
I strive very hard not to be bitter about everything that my husband and I had to give up when I know that we deserved to have the wedding and reception that normal couples get. But every time we had to cancel a vendor or call a friend to tell them that our reception was cancelled, it became more and more exhausting.
By the end of the summer, I was just out of hope. I realize how selfish I sound in writing this. There are people suffering from COVID, cancer, poverty, homelessness, abuse, and addiction as you are reading this. I know I am so incredibly blessed, and that there is so much in my life to be thankful for. While I was still excited to marry my husband, of course, we had to mourn the loss of the wedding we had been so looking forward to.
It just felt like God was allowing me to get drop kicked to the ground continuously.
But the bottom line is this: God prevailed. Nothing can stop the grace of the sacraments. We got married on a gorgeous October day. And as I walked down the aisle, linked arm in arm with my dad, I was not thinking about everything we had to give up to get to that moment.
My eyes were fixed on my husband, who was beaming as he stood underneath the Crucifix at the front of the church as he waited for me. What an image: my husband waiting for me beneath the cross of our crucified Savior.
What did I have to give up to get to that moment?
A party, a DJ, a sense of normalcy? And what did Christ have to give up for me to get to that moment? His life. That sacrament was only possible through the gift of Christ’s life poured out for me on the Cross, so that I can have access over and over again to His sanctifying grace.
God’s goodness and grace prevailed on our wedding day. Christ continues to pour out His grace upon my husband and I through His sacrament of Matrimony. Nothing that has happened in the world this past year can stop the grace that God wants to bestow on His beloved. The cross always gives us something to be thankful for.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenna McAndrew is the Director of Parish Services at a parish outside of Philadelphia and the host of A Shower of Roses, a weekly podcast which provides an explanation of the upcoming Sunday’s Mass readings. She has her Master’s degree in Religious and Pastoral Studies. Jenna lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her wonderful, saintly husband, Paul. She loves corgis, coffee, guitar, and writing music. Follow her here or listen here.