“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
Yes, it has been a year of pain and sorrow. More than we imagined. But as people of faith we are schooled in gratitude. We give thanks for the gift of life and the gift of salvation. And we give thanks for each other.
We mark Thanksgiving Day this week with gratitude for past gifts and for the blessings we know will follow. In acts of courage, we saw the beginning of new life over these past many months. In acts of generosity and selflessness, we saw examples of what it means to care for others who have so little—sometimes by people who have little themselves.
Since March, I have received numerous messages from donors and prayer partners, reassuring me that they are OK but more concerned for our Fathers and Brothers in mission and expressing gratitude for their service. “How are they faring?” “Has the pandemic impacted their work?” I am so grateful for these messages. One in particular really touched me: A woman said that she was able to give thanks for someone she lost this year and now misses—more thanks for a life well lived than the actual missing itself. When we begin and end the day with gratitude, our blessings—however long or brief—become the focus of our lives.
Matthew’s gospel reminds us that a blessing shared with someone in need is the same as honoring Jesus himself. I hope you will be able to share your blessings in some way with others this Thanksgiving. Volunteering your time may be complicated this year. But donations to a food pantry are always welcome. And so are the easiest thing to give away: a kind word or two.
Friend, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving in the presence of the Lord, surrounded by family and friends. Share your blessings—and be blessed as well.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Payer for 4th Sunday
It is right and just to give You thanks,
Lord God of heaven and earth in all
times and seasons but especially as harvest ends
when we usually gather with family and friends.
Though separated by time and place
we are all the more mindful
of Your many blessings:
health, peace, love, joy, and prosperity.
Fill us with gratitude for You and one another.
Make us ever mindful of those who hunger
for justice no less than food for friends
no less than faith.
We call down Your blessing upon our table
and those gathered with us.
May this food and Your grace
Give us strength sufficient
to do Your will now and forever.
Prayer by Maryknoll Missioner, Father Joseph Veneroso