I’ve been pondering what to write for Thanksgiving this year. I considered the usual list one often sees, but in truth such a list would have little on it beyond my family and other relationships. At the end of the day, it’s people who matter to me. As I’ve been reading (and blogging) Alexander Schmemann’s For the Life of the World, I’ve been struck by his image of man created to be eucharistic, that is offering thanksgiving for and on behalf of creation to God. It seems to me a better thing to celebrate than either our history of broken promises and conquest over the native peoples of this continent or our bloody civil war in which neither party to the conflict had a moral high ground.
Of course, as we reflect on man as eucharistic, we realize that none of us truly thank God with our being. None of us, that is, save one, the faithful man, the true Israel, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. He is our Eucharist for he restores to mankind our true vocation. In and through Jesus the Christ, we can participate in the life of God, offering true thanksgiving for all creation.
And yet — even now we too often don’t. We become paralyzed by fear. We do not see God everywhere present and filling all thanks. We do believe that reality is as Jesus describes it. Ultimately, we do not truly believe that God is unfailingly good, that he loves mankind, that he loves us and will use all that we experience for our salvation. From the moment I read it, I understood what Paul meant when he wrote, “For we know that all things work together for the good for those who love God…” I understood the story of Joseph. What his brothers meant to be evil, God turned to great good.
I’m drawn to Jesus because I want to believe that God is good. But it can be a hard thing to believe, deep down in your bones where it really counts. Evil may be an ephemeral shadow next to the light of God, but it seems strong and powerful, very real and frightening. We learn early on that the world is a dangerous place and so we do not see reality through the lens that Jesus offers.
What would it mean if those of us who call ourselves Christians determined to become eucharistic in communion with Christ?
Perhaps instead of the usual lists, I would offer thanks for having celiac, trusting that the good God would use it for my salvation? I would look at the evil I’ve experienced or which members of my family have experienced and see the good God has already brought out of that evil and offer those experiences as my eucharist?
Perhaps. But if so, I’m not there yet. I want to believe that God is good, but that is easier said than done.