The Synod of Bishops has me here in Rome when Canadians mark Thanksgiving. There's not much hope of finding a good turkey dinner here, but I have found many reasons to give thanks to God for his goodness.
Normally my thoughts at Thanksgiving turn first to family. This year is no different. In fact, my gratitude deepens as I participate in this Synod, dedicated to the gift of family. Time and again the Bishops speak of God as the author of family, whose plan for humanity was revealed from the beginning in the creation of man and woman, called together by the difference and complementarity of their sexes and commanded to be fruitful and multiply. We Bishops are giving thanks to God for the many families throughout the world who live this call with fidelity and joy. We also lift up to the tender mercy of God those families that struggle in different ways because of the variety of pressures they face. God remains near. He who sent his Son into a family (cf. Pope Francis at the Vigil during the World Meeting of Families) wills to stand at the centre of ours as the unique source of hope and peace.
The Synod is also a wonderful experience of family at the spiritual and ecclesial level. Our meetings are marked by exchanges among people from a wide range of countries and cultures. At meal times I chat with Bishops from every continent. In our working groups we have lay people with us who share their stories of family experiences from a host of different perspectives. Very rich. Yet the differences do not cloud but enhance the unity we share as members of the Church of Christ. We are, indeed, one family, and I give thanks to God for this opportunity to witness the working of his Holy Spirit to fashion from the many a family united in its love for Christ and the desire to share that love with the world.
The ancient Psalmist summed up beautifully many years ago the fundamental reason for our Thanksgiving: "O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!" (Psalm 118:1)