Thanksgiving – Thank You God!
Bottom line: The war ended, but the helping hands continue on. Today literally hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, many of them Catholic, have sought freedom in this country! And I proudly can say we are among the strongest Catholics in our nation today. For the Vietnamese, the United States meant freedom, especially religious freedom.
My brothers and sisters in Christ: Happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you — Americans and friends of Americans here in Columbus! A special word of welcome is due to all ambassadors of the God’s chosen people nation to Saint Anne Catholic Church! That means all of you – the Honorable Visitors who joins us in this Thanksgiving Mass! We are grateful that you could be with us!
Father Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong – Saint Teresa Church – Grovetown, GA
Thanksgiving Day – Year A – 2008 – Fathermartino@gmail.com
Thank You God!
As you might know, as a Vietnamese who grown up in Vietnam, I did not recognize or celebrate Thanksgiving Day. But rather, on this day, we celebrate of the feast of Vietnamese martyrs! And because I now a Vietnamese American, I celebrate both! The Thanksgiving and the Vietnamese Martyrs! So on this very special occasion, I decided to prepare this homily on the beautiful Preface which has been approved for Mass on this uniquely American celebration. The Preface compares God’s chosen people with Americans — and some people think this is an exaggeration, but I don’t.
Listen to two of the passages from the Preface:
“Once you chose a people and gave them a destiny and, when you brought them out of bondage to freedom, they carried with them the promise that all men would be blessed and all men could be free.
“It happened to our fathers, who came to this land as if out of the desert into a place of promise and hope. It happens to us still, in our time, as you lead all men through your Church to the blessed vision of peace.”
My parents and I are immigrants to this country in 1993! And many of you had known the story. No words of English – At the age of 17, 51 and 62, and less than 100 dollars in our pocket we started a new life and trying to forget our past. Past that includes but not limit to my dad spending 11 years in the Communist prison and so did mom, when she was one month pregnant with me; of my first 10 years of my life basically not going to church because simply, we had no church in town to go to; of many night we went to bed hungry at night; of my tear dripping from the eyes at every meal when I saw the “sweet potatoes” taking the place a bow of rice; of being persecuted and imprisoned for our Catholic faith!
We saw in the United States of America opportunities to grow! The freedom to practice our beloved faith and a chance to forge our own destiny politically, socially and economically! We came into a place of “promise and hope.” What we did more than 16 years ago is still being done today in America.
I mentioned that today is the Memorial of the Vietnamese Martyrs. No matter what one may have thought of the involvement of the United States in Vietnam. As a son of a South Vietnamese military family, I thank all of you for being there! Thank you for fighting along side with my parents, uncles and aunts. The war ended, but the helping hands continue on. Today literally hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, many of them Catholic, have sought freedom in this country! And I proudly can say we are among the strongest Catholics in our nation today. For the Vietnamese, the United States meant freedom, especially religious freedom.
I am extremely grateful to be not only a Catholic, but a Catholic from and of the United States of America. God has been so good to us, and most of our people have recognized God’s goodness to us and have responded with gratitude to him and with generosity to others. We recognize ourselves to be stewards and not masters of the abundance and of the freedom with which we have been blessed. Fr. Michael, Fr. Gaspar and I, we thank you for that!
I pray that this year Thanksgiving helps us to do is simply to give thanks. Here is a reminder of giving thanks for the simple everyday things that we don’t notice:
I am thankful for the mess to clean up after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
I am thankful for the taxes I have to pay because it means I have a job and I am employed.
I am thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have had enough to eat.
I am thankful for the lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
I am thankful for all the complaining I do about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.
I am thankful for the parking spot I find at the far end of the lot because it means I am capable of walking.
I am thankful for my big heating bill because it means I am warm.
(I love this one. Don’t look around. Don’t turn. Just listen.) I am thankful for the lady behind me in Church who sings off-key because it means I can hear.
I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.
I am thankful for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
And finally, I am thankful for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means that I am still alive.
But on this day above all, I thank God for my faith and for my freedom, and for the fact that I am an American, a citizen of a nation which, with all its faults, is still justly viewed as a land of opportunity, a beacon of hope in an often despairing world.
On this Thanksgiving Day, we thank our Heavenly Father, and we pray fervently, “God bless America!”
Fr. Martino Nguyen Ba-Thong