Thanksgiving also about sharing
Beginning when I was 16 years old, my mom and I spent a weekend together in Kansas City. This quick girls’ trip was a much anticipated treat for both of us. We did our fair share of shopping, enjoying nice meals and long walks around the Country Club area and sometimes we took in a Royals game or wandered through the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Over the decades many things changed about our annual getaway: favorite restaurants came and went, as did shops and styles. George Brett retired. One thing that did not change was our Saturday evening half-mile trek up the hill south of our hotel to make our way to Mass at Visitation Catholic Church. We became as familiar with this church as our own in many ways, but one year I was taken by the modification to the offertory procession.
The change was not in the act but in the attitude. As we watched, I felt I was witnessing a family arrive at the front stoop of dear friends or family. They came bearing the gifts with enthusiasm and anticipation. They presented bread, wine, a basket of gifts and the chalices that would be used to serve holy Communion. The priest welcomed them with a sense of delight and, with clear gratitude, he accepted the gifts.
Together they set the table, the family assisting the priest and deacon as they placed the bread, wine and chalices in preparation for the Eucharist. There was such a beautiful sense of warm hospitality, of gathering around the table in thanksgiving, of the beginning of a banquet rooted in comfort and holy tradition.
The scene was not unlike what many will experience this Thanksgiving, as guests arrive bearing gifts and as hosts welcome them. Guests will joyfully enter the home, the table will be set and the banquet can begin.
Eucharist is a Greek word meaning thanksgiving. At the last supper, Jesus set the ultimate table of gratitude and love. With his dear friends around him, Jesus solidified his call to his apostles and to us: He took the bread and the chalice. He gave thanks. He broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying "Take, eat and drink. … This is my body. … This is the chalice of my blood. … Do this in memory of me."
His life-giving sacrifice and call to us is what we celebrate when we come to the altar. It is where we find the nourishment to be his disciples.
As we take the time this Thanksgiving to recognize the countless gifts we have received from God, may we also open our hearts and homes in ways that bring comfort, hope, healing and joy, especially to those who have not been welcomed as so many of us have. May our compassion and service be a reminder that we are all invited to the loving table of Christ.
Shannan Brommer is director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Contact her at email@example.com.