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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Thanksgiving Day

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.

Pope Francis and I share a favorite movie. No, it’s not The Sound of Music, although that is certainly on my list. It is a foreign film called Babette’s Feast. Babette is a refugee on the run from violence in 19th-century France. She becomes the cook for two sisters in Denmark who are trying to keep alive their departed father’s small Christian church, although it is not going well. The congregation is aging and divided by petty differences. Babette works for the sisters for 14 years, and her only tie with France is a lottery ticket that a friend renews for her every year.

Well, you guessed it, Babette wins 10,000 francs in the lottery and decides to spend it all on a meal for the 100th anniversary of the founding father’s birth. The congregation, which numbers only 12, is invited. The sumptuous meal, which Babette had prepared many times before in her successful Paris restaurant, brings the church together again. Old quarrels are forgotten, and new hope settles on their small congregation. The final scene shows them holding hands in a dance under the stars.

The Thanksgiving meal has overtones of Babette’s Feast as well as the Eucharist in that it combines thankfulness with the reality that every good demands sacrifice. We express our gratitude today for what we often take for granted the rest of the year. We eat and drink with those whom we love with the knowledge that many people in our world still go to bed hungry each night or are displaced by violence, natural disaster, or famine. Despite these realities that are never far removed from our minds, we must give thanks. God’s care is constant and must be celebrated.

As Babette spent all she had to help foster friendship and reconciliation at her small church, so we look to Jesus, who sacrificed everything for us. The meal we celebrate today is a meal of blessing. We appreciate all that God has given us, and we renew our commitment to make our world a more balanced place for all.

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.