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Fr. Steve Kuder’s homily from Food Drive Mass 2019

Fr. Steve KuderRan across an old story: There was a boy, seven years old, who had never spoken in his life. His parents did everything they could with him to get him to speak, but nothing worked.

Then one morning at breakfast, he said, "This hot chocolate is cold!"
The parents, astonished, said to him, "Why didn't you talk before this?"
"Well," he said, "up until now, everything was OK!"

Let's face it: we look around our world and things are not OK. One big not-OK is anxiety. I saw that someone claims that 1 in 4 teenagers suffers from anxiety. Oh, not panic attacks necessarily, but somewhere on the spectrum of anxiety.

So here's St. Paul today telling us: "Have no anxiety at all!"
Let's take a minute or two to see how we can deal with anxiety biblically.
St. Paul repeats Rejoice twice: Rejoice in the Lord! I will say it again:
Rejoice! Why? Because he says that Rejoicing protects us from anxiety: Rejoicing will guard our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is all about our joy. At the last supper he says: "I have told you all these
things so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."
The great Jesuit scientist and mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, said: "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God."

Rejoicing and God just go together. It's like we can't have one without the other. But somehow, as we grow older, we seem to let rejoicing slip through our hands. 
Read a story about this. It's about a baby who laughs and claps her hands. She loves to laugh and clap her hands over almost everything. Shove Gerber's baby food in front of her and she claps ... even strained spinach. Sit her in a circle of toys and she'll break into applause. Her parents took her to the ocean to watch the waves roll in, and she started laughing and clapping right away.
"We only worry," her parents say, "we only worry that someday she'll stop."

Well, it's true, we all seem to stop, or at least slow way down. I heard that the average child laugh 300 times a day; but then not so much. 
How many times does the average adult laugh a day? Keep in mind, these are not average adults here at Prep today! How many? 17!
But all's not lost: we can share joy! Our laughter breeds laughter in others.
Like in old British novels, we can say to someone: "I give you joy."
She's on the soccer team and goes to state; we say "I give you joy of it."
He passes that tough test: "I give you joy."
So let's all say it together. “I GIVE YOU JOY!"
I saw it. Didn't you? Anxiety just flew out those doors over there.

So, how do we board the rejoicing train? St. Paul suggests one way, maybe
the best way: Thanksgiving.

Yes. Thanksgiving. It's the key. Just as it's been the key to this Food Drive.
Gratitude is the secret way to joy. I've been preaching at this Food Drive Mass on and off for three decades. And most years I quote the same mystic, Meister Eckhart, saying the same wondrous thing: “If we only said one prayer in our whole lives, and it was "Thank you," that would suffice.” That would be enough.
One prayer: Thank you. 
Let's say it all together just to be on the safe side with God on this Thanksgiving Eve: THANK YOU!

Now if we look around. Where are we? Well, at Mass. But the Greek word for what we're doing is Eucharistia, Eucharist! And eucharistia means: Thanksgiving.
So this great act of Christian celebration IS thanksgiving.

Yes, Eucharistic thanksgiving is the summit toward which all our Church activity is directed. It's also the fountain from which all the Church's spiritual power flows.
And we're right in the middle of it all, right now: Thanksgiving! So if we take a moment, let's think of all that we are thankful for.

So much. So much. And if you come back here in 60 years, as I am doing
now in my 60th reunion year, you'll even be able to thank God for unanswered prayers – Like Garth Brooks sings about.

Thank God for thanksgiving, which is the surest path to joy in our lives.
So we have two takeaways: Rejoice! Thank God!
After this Eucharist, let's send forth all this food you've collected.

Giving thanks to God!
I give you joy of it!
I give you joy!