Thanksgiving and Advent help us see others’ needs

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Holy Cross School fifth-graders Joseph Ashmead and Marguerite Kasinge join classmates in bringing Thanksgiving offerings to the altar during a Nov. 24 Thanksgiving Mass at Holy Cross Church in Rochester, N.Y. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)
Holy Cross School fifth-graders Joseph Ashmead and Marguerite Kasinge join classmates in bringing Thanksgiving offerings to the altar during a Nov. 24 Thanksgiving Mass at Holy Cross Church in Rochester, N.Y. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)

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Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

— Luke 12:48

[/quote_right]With Thanksgiving around the corner, and Christmas not far behind, thoughts of gratitude, and giving, are close at heart.

For those of modest means, the holidays are also a time to be mindful of their money, to keep within a budget. But, let’s face it, the pressure to spend is sometimes overwhelming.

I mean, how far can you stretch a few hundred dollars?

While I was mulling over our holiday budget, a recent news story popped up on my Facebook page.

The image was of what seemed to be a child’s blackboard, covered with rows of circles, the kind you make when you are covering up a line of text on a page. That image was, in reality, a renowned work of art, at least among art afficiandos, by American abstract artist Cy Twombly, and it just brought in $70.5 million at a recent auction at Sotheby’s.

I was speechless … except for the “seriously??” that slipped out of my mouth.

Mary Morrell, writer, editor and consultant at Wellspring Communications, may be reached at mary.wellspring@yahoo.com or Twitter at @mreginam6.
Mary Morrell, writer, editor and consultant at Wellspring Communications, may be reached at mary.wellspring@yahoo.com or Twitter at @mreginam6.

In reviewing the list of artwork that had sold at that auction, my incredulity grew. Forty-four pieces made sales of nearly $295 million, more than the gross domestic product of some small countries.

I realized I had no true sense of the wealth that some people have accumulated, people who think in millions the way most of us think in dollars and cents. I could not fathom having $70 million in pin money and certainly could never rationalize spending it on a piece of art … not when there was so much that could be done with so much money.

Imagine the communities that could be nurtured, the food pantries that could be filled to overflowing for years, the homes and lives that could be rebuilt following a hurricane or other natural disaster, the people who could be trained and employed so families could have a decent standard of living, the children who could be educated.

The Gospel of Luke is clear: Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

It is easy for us to fall into the trap of expecting those who have so much, an obscene amount, my dad would say, to foot the bill for good deeds, for making the lives of others better. But our true task as Christians is to evaluate what it means to have much, and then reflect on what God is calling us to do.

I remember a YouTube video that showed people in a food court in a local mall. A young man went to some tables and told the customers he hadn’t eaten for a while and asked if he could have a bit of their food. Across the board, they said no.

The scene changed to some who were homeless and who had just been given a bag of food from a local restaurant. The recipients were generous in their gratitude, so much so that when a young man approached each of them, separately, and asked if they could give him something to eat because he was hungry, they all shared the little they had been given without hesitation.

It seems to me that Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to celebrate before Christmas, because it can help us to focus on the blessings of God, and to enter Advent and Christmas from a place of gratitude for our God who gave us a priceless gift — His Son.

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