Finding God in Giving Thanks

by Julianne McCullagh

In all circumstances give thanks for it is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
—1 Thes 5:18

“Wednesday? Come on, I’m hanging out with the guys Wednesday.” It was Saturday before Thanksgiving break, and 15-year-old Christopher wanted to be with his friends. Their plans for after school the following Wednesday did not involve helping his parents with the Thanksgiving food basket delivery.“ And you said I could spend tonight at Dave’s.”

“Okay, but we’ll be by around 10:00 tomorrow to pick you up for Mass. Be ready, and clean!” His mom called.

As Chris rode off, he was glad to get away from his house for a while. Why can’t my parents just have some fun? Dave’s parents have parties almost every weekend; you’d think they were the kids.

When the boys arrived at Dave’s house, no one was home. They played video games, and Chris wondered if any kind of supper was planned. “Are your folks coming home soon?”he asked.

“Dunno,” Dave answered, not taking his eyes off the screen.

A moment later Dave’s parents came in with several bags of groceries. They sent the boys to bring in additional bags of chips, dip, and cookies.

Dave’s parents handed bowls of chips and salsa to the boys. Other grown-ups wandered in. Then the music got loud. The boys grabbed handfuls of chips and bottles of soda and parked themselves in front of the TV. When Chris’s stomach grumbled, he filled it with dip and chips. Sometime after midnight he cleared a space on the floor of Dave’s room and fell asleep, the music still pulsing through the floor.

God’s Invitation, Our Response

Ten o’clock Sunday arrived before Chris was ready for it. The doorbell rang a few times; no one answered it. Chris pulled himself up and left his sleeping friends. He was glad to see his little brother standing at the door.

They got to St. Francis Church 20 minutes before Mass. As if it were a new sight, Chris noticed the smiles on his parents’ faces as they laughed and talked to their friends and fellow parishioners. In the homily, Chris could’ve sworn the priest was talking directly to him. When it came time for the Sign of Peace, it seemed the entire congregation greeted each other. Chris stood in line for Communion with his family, aware of his hunger. As the Eucharistic minister held up a host and said, “The Body of Christ,” Chris felt as if he were receiving this nourishment for the first time. Returning to his seat, he felt a welcome emotion: gratitude.

“Go forth, the Mass is ended,” said the priest. “Thanks be to God!” Chris leaned over to his mother and asked, “Where do I sign up to help deliver the Thanksgiving baskets on Wednesday after school?”

Julianne McCullagh

Julianne McCullagh

Julianne B. McCullagh is Director of Family Life Ministry at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Lewisville, Texas.

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