Thanksgiving Cycle C

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homily from the Masses of

  • November 24, 2016 10AM
  • November 25, 2010


The poem Fr Dennis Dillon, SJ references these years are:

In 2016, we reflected on —

  • the origins of Thanksgiving, as captured in The Writers’ Almanac for that same Thanksgiving Day.  He noted the complexities that surround the stories of origin, but asked us to stay tuned to the focus on gratitude of the celebration.
  • He also shared the story from earlier in his Jesuit life, of a parishioner from a parish of limited means, in an urban area.  The only name he received from her and others was “Bottle Mary.”  She had had tuberculosis and spent 14 years or so in a sanitarium, of which 3 to 4 years she was restricted to bed.  She would chat with all, cheerily.  Someone with no reason to be kind or good-natured, yet she was.  He had one photo with her … hulking over her at his 6’2″ or so, and she was small (in part due to so many years of poor health).
  • She is one of the people of his life that he turns to as a model of gratefulness, and encourages us to find those individuals in our own lives.
  • the E. E. Cummings poem encourages us to move outside our box, our comfort zones … and the last lines of seeing and hearing seem especially fitting to our gospel of healing today.

In 2010, we reflected that —

  • Our gratitude and joy often arise in the broader context of challenges.  Our personalities and quirks, our defining characteristics seem to come more from these experiences that challenge us.  Wendell Berry’s poem, The Sycamore, captures this sense beautifully.
  • At this Mass, Fr Dennis drew us close to the altar — about 100 of us gathered to the center of the church, near and with him.  We always held hands for the Our Father at our parish, but this was something much closer when we did so.  The Last Supper, a table of close friends, seemed closer … and thus Christ.  Then, just when we thought we were bound in … how do we manage communion like this … among 100?  Out he comes from the altar moves far enough down the center aisle, and the two queues form and flow, gradually unwinding from the altar & sanctuary and weaving into straight lines t to him for the Sacrament, and then head down the empty rows to return to their seats for the post-Communion reflection moment.
  • In that Mass, I began to understand how a Good Shepherd creatively holds the flock close to the Sacrament and to himself (without ever getting between the Creator and God’s Created) in a Christian love.  The Mass became a work of art in the hands of a creative spirit, rather than a dry checklist unimaginatively completed. The mystery of our faith was easy to feel in that Thanksgiving of thin space.

Today’s image is one of the bark of a sycamore, attributed to the web name of Dragana Gordic. I liked the complexity and simplicity, richness of color within a narrow range of palette.

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