Ministerial message: Generosity – the true expression of Thanksgiving

A wealthy businessman was once asked to make a substantial donation.

His response was, “I can understand why you approached me. Yes, I do have a lot of money, and yours is an important cause. But are you aware that I have a lot of calls upon my money? Did you know my mother needs 24-hour nursing care?”

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“No, we didn’t,” came the reply.

“Did you know my sister is struggling to raise a family of eight on her own?”

“No, we didn’t,” came the reply.

“Did you know I have one son in a drug rehab clinic and another doing voluntary work overseas?”

“No, we didn’t.”

“Well, if I don’t give them a cent, what makes you think I’ll give it to you?”

None of us is that stingy. Yet, we can be more generous. The thanksgiving spirit challenges our failure at generosity.

On this day, as we celebrate the harvest and other blessings of the past year, we acknowledge God’s generosity in our lives. This sentiment should motivate us to become truly generous people. If we acknowledge what we have received in abundance, we are challenged to be a more giving people.

Three questions bear on our effort to give: how should we give? What should we give? And why should we give?

How should we give? We are to give cheerfully. Every act of generosity is an act of thanksgiving. It begins with acknowledging God’s blessings in our lives. Whenever people approach us to give, we should remember all the good things that God has done in our lives; the many blessings that have come our way. This will make us to offer our resources, cheerfully, from the abundance we have received from God.

What do we give? We are only able to give our resources, if we can offer ourselves. Stingy people are not able to give their resources because they are afraid of giving themselves away. According to Pope Francis, the way one reaches out to the person asking for help is important and must be done "by looking them in the eyes and touching their hands." Each time we give, we give more than our resources, we give away ourselves like Jesus.

Why do we give? We give because we are thankful to God. We believe that our possessions are gifts, for the benefit of everyone. Ironically, we sometimes express a scarcity mentality to demand made of us. We only need to take the first step, to give the little we truly can and leave the rest to God. We can only do what is possible and, measured in terms of what God can do, that is too much already.

The poetic words of John F. Kennedy are relevant to our reflection on thanksgiving: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

No doubt, the only way to live out gratitude is to become truly generous people. Happy Thanksgiving.

© Copyright Humboldt Journal

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