“Your faith has saved you” (Luke 17:19).
The Church provides two sets of readings for today, one suitable to the Thanksgiving holiday and the other for the ongoing apocalyptic themes emphasized as we end one liturgical year and approach Advent. In Luke 17, the leper who returns to give thanks is praised; In Luke 19, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. Our reality is always a mix of light and darkness, hope and trouble.
The November 22 date is seared into the memories of a generation – the day President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. For many of us it seemed like the end of the world. The country entered into a long period of shock and introspection, and a feeling of lost innocence pervaded everything. And though this was hardly the first time violence defined either our domestic life or our foreign policy, the decade had begun with such a spirit of optimism and idealism. It would end witnessing the horrors of the Vietnam War, a string of assassinations and the bloodiest phase of the Civil Rights movement.
Almost 50 years later, another young president oversees a faltering economy and a global “War on Terror’ fought with immense blood and treasure and scores of pilotless armed drones roaming the world in search of our enemies. Hope and despair define the world with disproportionate force inflicted by fate and design on the poor and displaced. We are right to stop to count our blessings, which include the tears of Jesus over us and our cities, a continuous baptism to cleanse us of sin and lead us to conversion. Our faith has the power to save us, but we must first live it.