Outgiving God Isn’t Possible

A week from now is our national holiday of Thanksgiving. Along with my brother bishops from the State of New York, I’ll be in Rome on our ad limina visit. Tough to find good pumpkin pie there!

When I was a boy, every birthday, every Christmas, was made special by a card from Aunt Sissy. Inside the card she would unfailingly tape a quarter, and two sticks of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. We loved receiving her cards.

Mom, of course, would quickly remind me that I had better write Aunt Sissy a thank you note, which I would. Guess, though, what would always happen? Aunt Sissy would reply to my note with another card, with another quarter and two sticks of Juicy Fruit inside! So, at mom’s insistence, I would write another note of gratitude…and, you guessed it, back would come another card from Aunt Sissy! I would have gone on forever if Mom had not made me stop!

What was beautifully clear to me was that I could not outdo Aunt Sissy in generosity. Even my thank you to her would only result in another gift.

Aunt Sissy, thank you, not only for the quarters and the Juicy Fruit, but for teaching me about God’s lavish generosity and goodness to us.

We can never outdo God in His generosity and goodness. As we pray at the Preface at Mass, “Even our ability to thank you is itself your gift.”

Does God want us to praise Him? Yes. Why? Because He needs our thanks? Forget it! He needs nothing. Because He is a self-centered God who enjoys recognition? We know better.

So, then, why does the Lord desire that we thank Him? So we can humbly recognize that He is a providential God who loves us and cares for us, and so He can do even more for us!

Even our attempt to thank God is due to His inspiration. And, every time we thank Him, we open ourselves to receiving yet more blessings from Him. We cannot beat Him at giving!

You know where this is really obvious? At Mass. Every Sunday, we go to Mass to praise and worship God. The very word Eucharist means thanksgiving. We try our best all Mass to let God know how grateful we are. We offer Him our very lives, in union with the eternal sacrifice of His Son on the cross. What more could we give Him? What greater act of thanksgiving could there possibly be? There, we’ve finally thanked Him sufficiently…

…until He then turns around and gives His Son back to us in Holy Communion! He did it again! We thank Him…He gives us even more!

What an awesome, wonderful, great God we have!

And, when I try to picture what He’s like… well, you’ll understand: Aunt Sissy comes to mind.

A blessed Thanksgiving!

I’ll be thanking God for all of you at the holy places in the Eternal City, especially at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul.