Sharing our blessings at Thanksgiving Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Thanksgiving is a day when we gather with family and friends to share a meal, reconnect as family, and thank God for our cornucopias of blessings.

The roots of Thanksgiving Day began with the pilgrims. Despite a long, hard winter during which half of them died from scurvy and exposure to the elements, the pilgrims were so thankful some of them survived that they invited their Indian friends to share a three day feast of thanksgiving.

H.U. Westermayer wrote that the pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts during that first hard year, yet they set aside a day to thank God through prayer and through sharing their blessings with Indian friends.

Sharing our blessings

One of the best ways to thank God is to share our blessings with others, especially those in need.

When I was in the Navy, through our chaplain, a young couple invited two sailors to share their Thanksgiving dinner. I was one of them.

The husband explained that when he was in the Navy, he felt lonely and abandoned at Thanksgiving, until a couple invited him and a shipmate to share a Thanksgiving meal.

He appreciated their generosity so much that when he was discharged, he and his wife decided to pass on the blessings he received from that couple by inviting two sailors to share a Thanksgiving meal. We were glad that they did.

Helping those in need

The late Donna Ginter of Dubuque felt that anyone in need was "family." She shared Thanksgiving meals with the needy and others for 50 years.

Her sharing began when she and her husband, who operated the Silver Dollar tavern-restaurant in Dubuque, invited truckers away from home for Thanksgiving dinner.

Each year they invited more truckers and others in need until the guests became so numerous that the dinner was moved to the Dubuque Knights of Columbus hall.

One year Donna and her co-workers served and delivered more than 2,500 meals. Meals were free, thanks to massive fundraisers, but free-will donations were accepted.

St. John Chrysostom said, "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs."

Our lives, talents, health, and food are gifts from God to be used in stewardship to help others. We will be judged on how we respond to our neighbor in need by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and other works of mercy.

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.