As the number of those diagnosed with COVID continues to rise and fear and worry pervade the land, this week we celebrate one of the most cherished of our national holidays, Thanksgiving. Yet, for all of us, things are different this year. There are restrictions on public gatherings and likely many family members cannot come together to share Thanksgiving. Many families have lost loved ones and many more face economic insecurity.
How do we celebrate a day of thanks when so many are suffering, sick, grieving, lonely and fearful? The first Thanksgivings were in response to abundant harvests. Subsequent celebrations also seem to call forth lists of items for which we are grateful. Maybe this year we want to change our approach to Thanksgiving by focusing not on what we have rather on who we are.
Each of us is a child of God, completely unique, precious and one-of-a kind!
We are the work of God’s hands, created in love and for the purpose of love.
Everything we are is gift, every breath, smell, sound and taste. The energy of our Creator is Love and the longing of our hearts is Love. A visceral response to this truth must be gratitude. To give thanks to God for who we are, rather than what we have, is the most fundamental and critical form of gratitude. Living in that gratitude our response to those around us is more naturally authentic, grateful, and loving.
I recall Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends when the host invited
each person gathered to share one thing for which he/she was grateful. Those moments were always beautiful as young and old, college students and grandparents spoke eloquently and from the heart. Yet this year, because we have all been changed by this pandemic, we can do more.
Perhaps Thanksgiving, 2020 offers each of us a sober moment to take stock of the immense struggles all around and perhaps within us. The harshness of this time is inescapable and it can also be an opportunity to strip away any superficialities of this holiday and embrace a new and deeper prayer of thanksgiving for our very being and the love that surrounds us.
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe
November 21/22, 2020
In today’s Gospel, Saint Matthew offers a compelling vision of the end-time, when the people of all the nations are brought before the Lord to give an account of their lives and actions.
Interestingly, the sheep, the righteous ones, are rewarded for having acted with love and compassion without having recognized the face of Christ in others. Good stewards recognize those in need of their care as gifts from God. They know that they are the instruments of Christ’s active, loving presence in the world.
How will we treat others this week: our family members, neighbors, customers or strangers?
What accounting will we make to the Lord for their care?