How can we relate with this rich man, whom God refers to as a “Fool?” While many of us aren’t familiar with storing crops and an abundance of goods, what things do we have in abundance that may prevent our eyes from focusing on God and others? What we encounter in this story is wealth and thanksgiving, a most important lesson right before we sit together with our families and loved ones to celebrate this special American holiday. The foolish rich man was so concerned with his goods, that his greed led him to make a big mistake. His success in life only provided for himself, and nowhere was he thinking about others or even expressing gratefulness to God for his many blessings. Gratitude means acceptance, affirmation and new growth in relationship among people and between people and God.
What custom did the Pilgrims practice on Thanksgiving to remind them of times
of need? How do we give thanks to God daily, and weekly? (Hint – Ευχαριστία)
The Pilgrims encountered many hardships when arriving in a new country and starting a new life. Many of them even lost their lives in the harsh winter. When spring came, they could clear the land and prepare to plant seeds, and then cultivate their crops during the summer months. In the fall, they were blessed with a good harvest, and unlike the rich fool from the parable they didn’t become engrossed with the thought of bigger barns. Rather, they gratefully turned their hearts and minds to God, and together with the Native Americans who became their new friends, they came together for a celebration. They joined with others for a time of Thanksgiving, and even had a custom to remember the previously challenging times. It is said that the Pilgrims would put five grains of corn on an empty plate on Thanksgiving to remind them of the time of scarcity and hunger.
When we focus so intently on the things we have or desire to acquire, we forgot to be thankful about all that God has already blessed us with, and even forget to remember God. It’s difficult to live thankfully when we become engrossed with our own concerns, plans and obligations. We may even become insulated within our own world, become insensitive to the presence of others as persons around us, or even to the beauty of creation and God’s many blessings in our life. We may find it hard to be thankful because of temptations, trials, deprivations, anxiety and pain we invariably suffer as we grow, mature and eventually die. Christians are encouraged, however, to be thankful even in adversity, being reminded especially by St. Paul who was persecuted and imprisoned for his Christian actions and beliefs. The most special encouragement to lead thankful lives is found in the Diving Liturgy celebrated weekly and on feast days. The Divine Liturgy is called “Ευχαριστία” or “Thanksgiving” because its heart is the prayer of consecration in which the gifts of bread and wine are offered back to God. From the basic fruits of the Earth and Man’s transformative work on them, we are offering these gifts of Thanksgiving to God which He consecrates and transforms into the precious body and blood of Christ. These gifts are offered to God with the realization that they, too, are gifts of God to us.
I encourage all of you to thank God for who you are, in the morning for each new day, daily for His many blessings of family and friends, for food and a comfortable life, and for everything thing else in between! When we are thankful to God for our life, and even praise Him in times of trouble and adversity, His grace can flow into our existence and strengthen our faith, opening us to His presence and the miracles He always works in our lives according to His will.
With Love in Christ,