When the birthday of our nation rolls around, we consider it a good time for a really bang-up celebration filled with fireworks, good food, and friends! But today’s readings tell us to rejoice all the time, even though celebrations like the Fourth of July only come once a year. It makes me wonder: Does God really expect us to take that much time off work?
The Lord told His people, “Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of nations like an overflowing torrent.” Wow, what a generous Lord! Let’s suppose for a moment that He was talking about more than just the actual town of Jerusalem. Couldn’t Jerusalem be a symbol of the Church, the Body of Christ (heaven and earth and children of Christ), including our country?
The first reading tells us to celebrate in the riches Jesus bestowed upon Jerusalem. We are to be thankful for the comfort, security, and prosperity we see all around us. Indeed these blessings are all available to us through our Church, through our fellow Christians, and through the abundance America enjoys.
God Bless(ed) America
But do you ever wonder why the Lord has given us so much, and why we so often take His goodness for granted? The reason is spelled out in the second reading. It tells us to be thankful for the luxuries (material and spiritual) that surround us, but that we should also realize that they all come from God’s power. We are not responsible for any of our riches — they’re all bestowed upon us by God. We should enjoy the generosity, yes, but always remember where it comes from.
The second reading reminds us not to boast, but to be humble and not take for granted all we are offered. Our only true and lasting joy comes from rejoicing in God, the One who makes all things possible.
Wanted: Field Hands
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few…” We have lots of people who want to kick back and watch the riches roll in, but God calls us to be workers in His field. The gospel says disciples were sent out to spread the Word and to share peace with others. How can we do the same?
Remember our Jerusalem symbols? We can be field hands and harvesters in the three areas that God has endowed — the Church (laity, servants, ordained); the community (volunteerism, social justice work, ministry outreach); and the country (military service or support, voting practices, praying for our leaders, spreading the Gospel).
I believe that if we go out into the world and walk Jesus’ path, we will continue to be blessed. But when we consistently fail to do so, I wonder if God’s gifts will cease? If we do not honor and love our Savior, our neighbors, and our community — or if we claim responsibility for prosperity in those areas — perhaps the gift “donor” will get tired of giving.
Let’s remember to also thank those who have gone before us to help insure the lifestyles we enjoy today. There are many who serve, and few who are recognized. Let’s pray for our service men and women on the anniversary of our freedom, today, and always. Let us remember to thank those who toil in the fields each day. And most of all, let us give thanks to the Giver of all gifts.
How do you give thanks for all the good things in your life?
Do you see God’s hand in the gifts you receive?
Are you a field hand or a couch potato?
Original article by Angie Ledbetter, 2004.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.