If there is one thing that unites us, it is the realization that all of us could fill at least one waking day with acts of thanksgiving.

I am not even counting the five to eight hours most of us spend sleeping during each 24-hour cycle — which is a blessing in itself for many of us (with due consideration to those who must endure snoring).

More Americans will come together for a meal on Thanksgiving day than at any other time of the year. Yes, getting there will often be a hassle — not much different from herding the family to church on Sunday.

Why is it that celebrations whose very heart and soul are prayer of thanksgiving seem to run into the most resistance?

Every human being loves to be thanked. More than anything else, I think, although we all want to be loved, or at least appreciated, the very least we expect from one another is just to be noticed.

Any affirmation of existence, that my being alive makes a difference to someone else, is a fundamental human desire that can hardly be called disingenuous — especially if we believe what our faith professes: the dignity of every single human life.

I have drawn a parallel between Thanksgiving day and what we, as a community of Catholic Christians, do all the time. Every day is a day of thanksgiving, most poignantly celebrated in the eucharistic sacrifice of the holy Mass.

To “Eucharist” means, literally, to give thanks. We thank God for loving us so much as to send us his only-begotten Son, incarnate with us, loving us to the end through his sacrificial death. What greater love is there than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends?

If ever there be something that could be called “the Catholic thing,” it is that we are a people who give thanks.

As a pastor, however, I must confess that one of the most common complaints I have heard over the years is from very loyal and loving parishioners regretting that their generosity of service goes unnoticed, that it is never thanked — and there are countless neglected lives among whose voices are seldom, if ever, even heard.

So many parents and grandparents — and those who parent in their place — go unthanked every day. This is not a moment for counting points and virtue signaling to extract “poor me” praise and adulation from those we have nurtured and gifted.

If anyone can claim first dibs on being thanked for all of the blessings we have received, it is Jesus himself, who asks nothing from us other than that we know he calls us friends and that we let others know that, too.

Reflecting the words of Jeremiah (“I have loved you with an everlasting love,” Jer 31:3), Jesus has given us his very flesh and blood in the form of a meal, making himself really present to us in way that transforms not only the natural elements of bread and wine into what he truly is — a divinely personal love to be consumed — but also transfigures our own lives to become what we consume: the mystical body of Christ.

We should reflect on this at Thanksgiving.

When all of the commotion dies down, if for a few moments we can pause at the table, extinguish the electronic screens and light a candle perhaps, we might pause for a minute of silence and offer a prayer of thanks — not only for the meal we are about to share with those around us, but for our very existence and the life and dignity of every human being.

Thanksgiving is, above all, a celebration of the dignity of human life. God delights in all creation. Only one creature, however, was made in the image and likeness of God.

“Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26).

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14): one like us in all things but sin (cf. Heb 4:15), who died and rose than we might live with God and one another forever.

This is what we celebrate at Mass. This is what we give thanks for when we pause at the table of plenty that, God willing, many of us will partake in this week.

We are mindful of those who remain united with us in our ecclesial communion, even if their state of mind or health or circumstance does not permit their physical presence.

We also pray that the Holy Spirit will drive us into the world, filled with gratitude and inspired with this powerful message of life: that God loves us all, and that our only true mission in life is to live and proclaim that Good News.

(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)