In the United States, grocery bills seem to be growing exponentially, energy prices continue to creep upward, major natural disasters seem to happen monthly and mass shootings feel like the norm.
It’s enough to adopt a doomsday outlook.
Pope Francis acknowledged as much on the World Day of the Poor Nov. 13. He noted that wars, famine and other calamities affecting the world may lead to paralyzing fear. But Christians, he said, should be moved instead. We should ask ourselves, “What good, concretely, can I do?”
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church parishioners did something good and concrete this week. They provided Thanksgiving meals for 60 families.
Despite rising prices that make this year’s Thanksgiving dinner more expensive than ever, the parish had its most successful collection yet. Usually, parishioners collect 40 to 45 meal kits, according to Ashia Powell, chair of the social concerns committee.
This year, the donations were more substantial and the parish had more volunteers than were needed to distribute the food.
Powell attributes this success to a desire for normalcy among parishioners. They want to recapture a sense of community.
There’s more to it than that though, and Powell put her finger on it when she explained why the parish offers this ministry:
“From the beginning,” she said, “this has been about giving to the community and celebrating how good God has been to us.”
The ministry is a manifestation of the parish’s gratitude for God’s blessings.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a good time for all Christians to consider how we express our gratitude for God’s blessings.
And it’s a time to be moved from paralyzing fear toward hopeful action.
On the World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis encouraged us to act, saying, “Let us light candles of hope in the midst of darkness. Amid dramatic situations, let us seize opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel of joy and to build a more fraternal world.”
During his homily, he urged Christians to ask themselves this question:
“What is the Lord saying to me and what can I do that is good?”
And he advised his listeners to focus that good on God’s children, “our fellow men and women, especially the poor, in whose face, in whose history, in whose wounds, we encounter Jesus.”
Let’s follow the example of Immaculate Heart of Mary parishioners and make our giving personal this year. How will we manifest our gratitude?