On Thanksgiving Day, we like to go around the table and tell what we are thankful for. God has been good to us in many ways. But Captain has spent the last 50 days looking for a new job. He was laid off somewhat unexpectedly. Certainly undeservedly. This makes us thankful for all the things we do have: like each other, good relationships, good health, good attitudes, and faith that the merciful Lord has a better plan for our future.
Ever since the election of Pope Francis, my thoughts have returned over and again to his friend's whispered last-minute plea: "Don't forget the poor." I believe there are people who are poor in finances, but also those who experience poverty in many other ways. A poverty of health, a poverty of "smarts" in the classroom, a poverty of friends in social circles, the poverty of childlessness, and worst of all = a poverty of faith.
How many people do you help who are sick and ill? (Or do you walk on the other side of the road busy with your own cares?) How many people do you treat with patience and understanding when they don't "get it" right away? (Their gifts may lie hidden beneath a C- exterior.) How many people do you make time to be friendly with? (Even if they are nerdy, awkward, annoying, or not in your clique of friends.) How many people do you tell about Jesus? (Using words only if necessary--like St. Francis advised.)
I ponder these things for my own conscience and maturing spirituality. But it is even more challenging to look deeper:
Am I willing to give freely to the poor, even if they appear able to work? Do I judge those who are dependent on the government and seem to manipulate the system?
Am I as compassionate for the sick and suffering when it was brought on/made worse by their smoking, drinking, and drug use? or by their eating addictions? Or do I judge these as inevitable consequences?
Am I as understanding with arrogant people? or as patient with the simple-minded? or as willing listen to the divorced and lonely? Because everyday there are entertaining outlets which tempt me not to care too deeply.
Am I friends with the outcasts? the immigrant? the smelly? the toothless? the haughty? the wasteful?
Am I serving God with the gifts and talents that He gave me? Does my life proclaim the salvation of souls in a way that attracts others to Jesus?
I am thankful for our savings account as a safety net, but more importantly for the bounty of children at my table, the excess of talk and ideas, the vibrant health of hockey boys, and the unity we feel in Christ as He assists us in facing our various struggles.