… and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive. From thy bounty, through Christ our Lord Amen.
Grace before meals is one of the first prayers that we learn as children along with the Sign of the Cross, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. Needless it is a staple rote prayer in any Catholic’s arsenal. A few nights ago, I had a pretty lousy day at work that was extra long and then ran to my community theater play practice. At the end of the day I hadn’t eaten anything substantial and I was noticeably hungry.
After making a salad, I sat down said grace and cried. It was a prayer I had said thousands of times and make a habit of praying it in restaurants, schools, or alone, but I, for a moment, understood the fullness of that prayer.
Living in America, I do not understand what true hunger absolutely feels like. There are a dozen fast food restaurants within walking distance of my home, and I have some food in both my refrigerator and cupboards. Even though there are times when meals are a hodgepodge of what I have left in storage, my husband and I do not go truly hungry. In the United States 14.5% of families suffer from some form of food insecurity throughout the year. This means that they are reliant on Food Stamps or Food Pantries in order to meet their basic needs. Even with these forms of assistance 5.4% still have missed meals or gone for days without food in order to get by.1
Even though I was hungry, I was truly thankful for what I had. I had made it through the day and was able to share a small meal with my husband. In that moment I was happy for the love and fellowship that I was able to have with my husband and grateful for the food I was about to partake in.
My thankfulness also extended beyond that of the food and company that I was about to enjoy. Recently I have been blessed to meet my newest nephew, move closer to family, and enjoy spending time with family in ways I wasn’t able to when living in Southern Iowa. These are all gifts that I recognize that God has helped me with and I am extremely grateful.
Paul reminds us in his first letter to John, that God is love. It is in that same gift of love, God gives of himself. All good things regardless of size come from the love of God. We are reminded from the book of Luke:
What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Luke 11: 11-13
What God gives doesn’t come from an obligation from him to give us what is needed. Good things will come because God desires to give us good things. In this passage we are also reminded to ask. It is a very humbling experience to ask for things that we need. Luke writes prior to this that we should ask, seek and knock. Without searching we are unable to know what our needs are. It is an exercise in patience and humility to wait for the proper timing of God’s gifts. I often remind myself that I will be given gifts in God’s time, not my time.
It is also a gift of discernment to look at what we are asking for and know whether it is something truly good or unnecessary for us. There are times when we are hurt because we did not receive what exactly we asked for. We have to take time to look at the blessings of our day and find how they work in God’s plan. That being said, I am grateful for my job and being able to support my family. I am grateful for my friends and family and the support they give me. What today are you grateful and can give thanksgiving to God for today?
1 Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. “Household Food Security in the United States in 2010.” USDA ERS. USDA, Sept. 2011. Web. 16 Aug. 2012. .