As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables to enjoy the perks of this unique American holiday – from turkey and cornbread dressing to sweet potato pie – many of us will be spending time thinking. to the blessings of life.
We will rightly think of our neighbors, of our friends and family, of all those who enrich our life. Or we’ll think of our great state of Arkansas, with its abundant natural resources and millions of acres of fertile farmland. Or we will give thanks for our good health.
Of course, an attitude of humble gratitude is fundamental for anyone who follows Jesus. Jesus gives us the bread from heaven, the bread of eternal life, as a sacrifice. “Do this in remembrance of me,” he said to the disciples before his crucifixion.
It is in the Eucharist that we see the hand of God’s saving providence, and we are grateful for it. The very word Eucharist means Thanksgiving in the original Greek.
But even beyond our gratitude, I hope that this thanksgiving will awaken in us a spirit of sharing. And that we will take the time to ask ourselves how we can alleviate the suffering of others.
As Jesus said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving. Especially in the age of covid-19, the needs of vulnerable people are increasing day by day.
Think about how the pandemic disrupted supply chains in countries already facing chronic poverty, armed conflict and the devastating effects of climate change. These threats have left an estimated 45 million people, more than 13 times the population of Arkansas, on the brink of famine.
What can we do, then, in this thanksgiving to help our brothers and sisters in need?
On the one hand, we can volunteer at a local pantry or shelter. We can also donate our money to faith-based organizations and other reputable nonprofits that work tirelessly to support impoverished communities. For example, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) of which I sit on the board of directors and which was founded by the bishops of the United States in 1943, provides food, shelter, water, emergency relief. and agricultural programs in more than 100 countries around the world.
We can also raise our voices by calling on Congress to fund programs to fight the scourges of hunger and poverty. For example, we can urge Congress to increase funding for programs like Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole Food for Education, which save lives every day. In addition, we can ask Congress to put the poor first when it re-authorizes the Farm Bill and the Global Food Security Act.
Make no mistake, if doing for others seems like a lot to ask, it is. But as the Pope himself reminds us, we are one human family.
As he writes in his latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, “A global tragedy like the covid-19 pandemic has momentarily rekindled the feeling that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are. everyone’s problems. Once again we have realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together. “
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of our lives, it’s easy to forget that we are inherently interdependent. For example, you might have been woken up by an alarm clock made by a Swiss mechanic, or crawled out of bed between cotton sheets lifted in the Arkansas Delta. Or your grain came from a wheat field in Oklahoma, or your coffee from a Guatemalan plantation.
It’s amazing to think that these types of products help us get through our days, but are made by people whose efforts enrich our lives, people we will never know – and we have a corresponding obligation to do what we do. can to enrich the lives of others.
All true gratitude begins with remembrance. Remembering that the lion’s share of our good fortune comes from the goodness of God and the goodness of others.
So as we celebrate around our Thanksgiving tables, let us be grateful and humble as we give thanks for the blessings of the Lord. As the Bible says, “You will be enriched in everything to be generous in everything, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” (Corinthians 9:11)
Anthony B. Taylor is Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock.