Thanks-GIVING: Gratitude Through Generosity

How often do we take the gifts God gives us for granted? I don't just mean that we take them for granted in that we forget where they came from or that others don't have them, but we can know where our gifts come from, realize others don't have them and still take them for granted. How? By forgetting what they're for.

God makes resources available to us not so that we can simply enjoy them and thank God for them, even thanking God that we're not like those who have less access to resources, but God gives us this access to resources, these blessings, for the blessing of others. This is the pattern of God's covenant: "...I will bless you...all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:1-3). It was never God's intention that the people of Israel would be blessed for the sake of their own blessing but so that they might see the ultimate blessing in the blessing of the world. The greatest reward is not our being able to use our resources without restriction, however nice that may be, but it is our ability be a part of God's work of blessing that we might see other blessed by the generosity of God through us. We take blessings for granted when we do not share them and thus find the life that is truly life through our shared life with others. That's the best and only way for us to truly enjoy our gifts and to understand true gratitude: by giving them away.

How often do we interrupt God's invitation to generosity with our thanksgiving rather than allowing our thanksgiving to flow from our generosity? How often does God give us enough bread that we might share it with others and we say "Thank you Lord for your blessings" and continue to eat and get fat? We can't truly celebrate gratitude for our blessings if we do not remember what they're for, where we came from. God continuously reminds Israel that they were slaves in Egypt so that through memory and gratitude they might be drawn to mirror God's generosity and so that gratitude might flow from generosity.
"In the future, when your son asks you, 'What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?'tell him: 'We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand'" (Deut. 6:20-21).
This year during Thanksgiving let us celebrate thanks-GIVING that from gratitude, from our memory that we were slaves in Egypt, will flow radical generosity that we might match God's generosity. Let us remember, as we eat and drink and give thanks, those on the under side of society, those in need, and let us remember why God has blessed us.

Try this: as you eat your thanksgiving meal, enjoy family and friends, and celebrate the blessings from God's hand, try praying "give US this day OUR daily bread" and keep the hungry in mind. Allow your meal to be a Eucharistic meal, a meal of hope for the hopeless, a meal in which gratitude leads to generosity and generosity leads to gratitude, calling our past liberation into the present and calling our future liberation into the present, that it may be for you a new reminder of God's radical invitation into his work of redemption. Open you table, if only in your heart, to Jesus and find true gratitude through generosity.