The Vatican and Popular Movements from around the world met virtually in October to discuss topics Pope Francis addressed in his new encyclical, Fratelli tutti. The Pope has met with and written to members of Popular Movements on several occasions since the beginning of his pontificate. Popular Movements around the world represent those who are, in the words of Pope Francis, “on the periphery” of society and the world due to economic and social hardship. During the meeting, representatives from the Popular Movements shared the activities in which they are involved and prepared a seven-page document to be presented to Pope Francis.
During the meeting, the participants discussed the three Ts which Pope Francis emphasized to the Popular Movements in his first meeting with them in October 2014. They are, Trabajo (work), Techno (housing), and Tierra (land). These also have been referred to as the three Ls, labor, lodging and land. The emphasis on three is very much in keeping with Pope Francis’ use of the number three in the Jesuit tradition. While the Pope used the three Ts as a reflection for those on the periphery, many times in need of land, housing and work, it is well for all of us to reflect upon them as we celebrate Thanksgiving, especially this year, as we sometimes may take them for granted.
This year Thanksgiving will be celebrated in a different manner due to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus. Some may have lost a loved one due to the virus or have been seriously affected by it personally or through its affliction on a loved one. Some may have lost a job or have been impacted economically by the pandemic. All of us wonder when this situation will be over, and we will be able to return to normal. Thanksgiving may be different for us this year causing us not to reflect as much on the things for which we should give thanks to God. As we reflect upon the three Ts at this time, the words of Pope Francis addressed to members of the Popular Movement in April of this year are good ones for all of us: “I urge you to reflect on ‘life after the pandemic,’ for while the storm will pass, its grave consequences are already being felt. You are not helpless. You have the culture, the method, and most of all, the wisdom that are kneaded with the leaven of feeling the suffering of others as your own. I want all of us to think about the project of integral human development that we long for and that is based on the central role and initiative of the people in all their diversity, as well as on universal access to those three Ts that you defend: Trabajo (work), Tech (Housing) and Tiara (land and food). I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow us a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the center.”
We give thanks to God for the gift of work. Work is essential to our being human and made in the image and likeness of God. It does not matter what our work may be. What matters is that we carry it out in a manner that enables us to be creative as God was in His working to bring the world into existence. Perhaps the pandemic has caused us to appreciate, not only the sustenance which our labor gives us, but also the dignity which it confers to our lives. At Thanksgiving, we give thanks to God for the labor in which we participate, and we pray for a just and fair labor situation for all men and women.
We give thanks to God for our housing which is the home in which we live with our families. Having a decent roof over our heads is an important part of our existence so that we can be with those we love, who brought us into this world and those whom we have brought into this world. Our families are a great blessing from God. We never can take our families for granted. They gave us life and they give us meaning in life as we are bonded to them in the fundamental fraternity about which Pope Francis speaks. Perhaps being separated from them physically at Thanksgiving gives us more reason to be thankful for them and to appreciate the integral part they are of our lives.
We give thanks to God for the gift of land. At the very beginning of creation God created land and entrusted it to the culmination of His creation, man and woman, to take care of and cultivate. In this land, we find the beauty of God and the sustenance for our being. We give thanks to God for the land in which we live, our great nation of the United States of America. We are blessed to be in this land and, despite all the difficulties we recently and currently are facing, we know that this great nation is blessed by its freedom and resources. We strive to ensure that our great nation will live by the principles for which it was founded and for which the Pilgrims came to be able to worship God and practice their religion in freedom. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we give thanks to God for our land and we pray earnestly for its well-being and moral foundation based on respect for life.
Thanksgiving is a very special time of the year. While it may be different this year, it is a time to reflect upon the gifts which we possess from God and to appreciate them and never take them for granted. Let us reflect upon the three Ts in our lives - work, housing, and land. May we be joined to our families more deeply in this way as well as to all families as created in the image and likeness of God.
A blessed Thanksgiving to all!
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
November 20, 2020