Our Church celebrates the feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs today. These were 117 lay people, religious men and women, priests and bishops who were killed between 1820 and 1883. They represent the more than 130,000 who were killed for the faith during the 17th and 19th centuries in Vietnam. When living in a country such as ours, it is easy to forget that people still are killed throughout the world because of their faith. No one will stop us as we make our way to churches this evening and tomorrow morning to give thanks to God for the many gifts we have received. And that is a great blessing.
However, there are so many more subtle ways in which we have to chose to either profess faith or "die" in some way. Our society seems to think that the only proper place for faith is in a church, synagogue or mosque. Discussions about, displays of or interaction with faith in God is deemed somehow "inappropriate" anywhere else. What we fail to remember is that our faith, if it is really a part of us, is supposed to impact everything we say or do. Too often we are afraid of either ridicule or rejection and we buy into the notion that God is not to be discussed in public unless we are worshiping. Rather than allow our pride or feeling of being accepted die, we let our faith die a little. And these small deaths build up until we too relegate faith to something we embrace only within the confines of a place of worship.
As we prepare to give thanks tomorrow, maybe we should reflect on whether we are truly grateful for the "Freedom of Religion" we are so proud of and whether or not we really exercise that right. And if we do not, perhaps we are the real "turkeys" this Thanksgiving.