For us living in the United States, Thanksgiving Day allows us look around and be amazed. More than the food or the festive table, we are amazed at family and friends gathered together once again, in person or in spirit. We feel welcomed and at home. We feel blessed and safe.
Yet we know there are many who do not feel welcomed or at home, blessed or safe. So I am thankful for those Passionists who extend compassionate hospitality, spiritual counsel, words of hope, and prayers for those among us in need.
I’ve been searching for a way to bring my own Thanksgiving into sharper focus. Here perhaps is a way, using the Gospel of Matthew (26:31-46), to bring to the Table of Thanksgiving within our hearts those for whom we give thanks.
I was hungry, and you gave me food. For my special teachers, like Sister Cecilia, who fed me when I was hungry for knowledge. For all who work in food pantries or deliver Meals on Wheels so that others can eat.
I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. For my mother and father who had a thirst for justice and taught me how to look for truth. For all those who selflessly give themselves in service to others in developing countries that they might learn how to read, build a well, or grow food.
I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. For my friends, like Mike, Diane, and Bob who hugged me when I felt like I had been shunned and did not belong. For all who minister to those living under bridges or in parks, and for all who welcome the stranger and refugee, especially at this time of world-wide crisis.
I was naked, and you clothed me. For my family now that allows me to be vulnerable and not be ashamed when I weep. For those who are AA sponsors and mentors who stand by us as we fall and get back up.
I was sick, and you took care of me. For those who have cared for me, like Tom and Ron, who once had to rush me to the doctor. For nurses and doctors, especially those like the Little Sisters of the Poor who minister to those in their last days.
I was in prison, and you visited me. For my formal and informal confessors, like Fr. Doug, who did not fear visiting me in my dark cell of shame and sin. For those who give hope to the prisoner through their work for a more just legal system.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.