THANKSGIVING MESSAGE OF BISHOP PETER A. LIBASCI
“Happy Thanksgiving!” Coming from the smallest of children, the words are spoken with excitement and punctuated by wide eyes and broad smiles. The children have learned at home and in school that there is something special about this particular Thursday in November.
Youngsters of school age will know all about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans who shared a harvest meal of thanksgiving. A new generation of children of so many different cultures will eagerly offer their greeting of “Happy Thanksgiving,” because they know that every year, on this particular Thursday in November, we celebrate the bounty of God’s goodness, shared with gratitude.
The Pilgrims didn’t know what their future would be in the new world. What they did know was that they wanted to be free to exercise their religious beliefs. They came to these shores a strange and different people – markedly different from the people already living here. Their own identity and their communal faith gave them strength; their mission gave them purpose. The Native Americans, by contrast, knew this land and its beauty. They knew how to coax the soil to yield up a plentiful harvest. One wonders what the Native American thought on seeing these strange newcomers arriving with their unfamiliar clothing and manner. What we know is that these native people were proud of what their culture had achieved and were proud, too, to show these new arrivals how to manage.
The story is familiar though its facts are often fuzzy, but as with all great epics, there is a universal truth that emerges – a paradigm of the human story. It is relived and must be relived until all can understand and appreciate its true meaning.
And so now, on this particular Thursday in November, we recall that first Thanksgiving meal when two seemingly opposite peoples came together in a harmony desired by The Great Spirit, a harmony inspired by God. Together they mirrored the very best of what each had sought. They had found the meaning of God and together they imprinted on the nation a lasting icon of gratitude.
“Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!” And make sure there’s a drumstick for God.