This week on the mind of every American is whether or not to gather for a celebration on Thanksgiving Day. The spreading of the pandemic in recent weeks has created a new dilemma for politicians and Church leaders. Should we gather or should we stay home this year for Thanksgiving? Each and every Divine Liturgy is a Feast of Thanksgiving in the Orthodox Church, whether or not it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. As Orthodox Christians we gather, as our ancestors gathered to give thanks to God for our Earthly blessings and our heavenly blessings. We gather to give thanks for being forgiven by God for the countless sins we commit each and every day.
I share this with you today, not to take sides on the recent debate about limitations on Thanksgiving dinner, but to remind us that despite the pain and suffering we all feel during the pandemic, God has given us many reasons for which to be thankful. Truly, as contemporary Americans, we have much to be thankful for, most especially this year knowing that God has continued to protect us.
In today’s Gospel, we see what happens when someone who has been exceedingly blessed by God is unable to express his gratitude. In his greed, instead of using his blessings to help others, he felt it was more important to waste them and build bigger barns. In his greed, he could not appreciate what he already had, wanting only to get more. In his greed, he was warned, “Fool, this night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Luke 12.20)
We have been blessed by God, whether financially or otherwise, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. It is about time we stop looking at our blessings as our personal things to enjoy, but our personal gifts to share. We share our gifts in many ways, but this year more than recent years, we should work extra hard to focus our attention on giving thanks to God and sharing with others. Many are struggling during the pandemic, and it is up to us to comfort and assist them, and that normally means looking beyond ourselves long enough to see the needs in others.