I am sure you have noticed that there always seem to be some new “buzz words” or expressions that we commonly use.
One of those that I hear used frequently these days is “entitlement.” There are, no doubt, many things in life to which we may well be entitled — fair wages for labour, justice etc. At the same time, there are things which we are privileged to enjoy, but these are not the same as entitlements.
Something that seems to be missing much of the time is a sense of gratitude. Gratitude is something that seems to need to be taught.
What is the point of all the above?
As I write this, we have just celebrated Thanksgiving, and this seems to me to be significant.
What does the observance of Thanksgiving mean to us? I can only try to answer that for myself and guess at what it may mean for many.
Historically, it has been the time when in a rural and agricultural society, we give thanks to God for the blessings and, perhaps, the richness of the harvest of the land and/or sea. I suspect many of us find ourselves rather far removed from a deep appreciation of the blessings of the fruitfulness of either or both. Most of us are so urbanized that it is difficult to appreciate how dependent we are on the fruitfulness of the land and sea. We go to the stores to get what we need. The sophisticated systems that are in place enable us to have the things we desire when we desire them, with little thought for how they have come to be available.
Thoughtfulness about all these things would seem to be a precursor to the thankfulness that is appropriate. Thankfulness is the condition that leads to the action of thanksgiving.
The next issue is “To whom do we give thanks?” “Who is ultimately responsible for all the abundances we know?”
Much will depend upon our life view. Do we think the world and the universe are the result of chance? Do we think that they are the result of design and creative activity? I cannot answer this for anyone other than myself, but I can share my view with you.
Unequivocally, I can say I believe they are the result of divine activity, that there is a God who is ultimately and supremely responsible for the wonders and potential of the world in which we live and move and have our being. Anything else seems to be much more of a stretch of the imagination than an act of belief.
In that framework, God is to be thanked for all the blessings of our creation and redemption, for all the blessings of the fruits of land and sea, for love and sustenance. St. Paul urges that “… in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ give thanks every day for everything to our God and Father.” (Ephesians 5:20)
What better way is there to express this than to share the bounty with others, especially the needy?