One of the greatest blessings of the parental journey has been witnessing Christmas gifting. When they were young, our boys — like the vast majority of children — could not wait to open their presents on Christmas mornings.
As soon as the commercials came on the TV before Christmas, they would begin their very lengthy list of all the gifts they hoped Santa would bring them. With each passing day came ever-increasing anticipation for what they would be receiving.
Then, a shift happened. It was akin to the difference between asking them to stay in bed until six am from asking them to please be up by nine am. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but the change was dramatic. Gone were counting the days until, “When we can open the presents!” It had been replaced with great excitement over the gifts that they were giving to others.
God incarnate in Jesus is God’s greatest gift; it is the manifestation of God’s self-giving love for us. It is the model and the call for us both as individuals and as faith communities to embody God’s self-giving love to the world. It is, for most of us, one of life’s greatest struggles to continue to learn this lesson: it’s not about us.
I recently read a blog post by Ruth Burrows at americamagazine.org, who wrote, “In Ascent of Mount Carmel, St. John of the Cross wrote: ‘Oh that someone might show us how to understand, practice and experience what this counsel is which our Savior here gives us concerning the denial of ourselves’…”
The “gift,” in the end, is the giving — most specifically the giving of ourselves. Each of us has gifts to give. Each of us is a gift.