What is your reaction when you receive a gift from someone? Do you ever wish they had gotten you something else? Does it sometimes make you feel obligated to give them something in return?
How beautiful it is when a gift doesn’t make us feel disappointed or obligated but deeply grateful, wanting to give in return.
Jesus is one of those gifts for us, and for the whole world. We may be disappointed by the institutional Church. We may see religion as an obligation, whether we practice it or not. Yet, Jesus is never a source of disappointment or obligation. He is always a gift.
Lying in the manger on Christmas night in Bethlehem was the Father’s most precious gift to humankind: His Eternal Son. Thirty years later on Calvary,
that same Son stretched out His arms to seal the Father’s gift forever. And when He went up to heaven, the Risen Christ sent down the gift of the Father’s love – the Holy Spirit – so that the gift of himself could be received down through all generations till kingdom come, literally!
This is the lens through which we can live and share our Christian faith. The Gospel is not a laundry list of rules but the testimony of God’s greatest gift. Going to Mass is not primarily an “obligation” but an opportunity to receive the unspeakable gift of Jesus. Following Christ in our daily lives is not a recipe for rigidity or disappointment but a call that has the power to make every part of life into an adventure. Being part of the Church is not a matter of adhering to human or divine expectations, but receiving Jesus together in a way that transforms us into sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of one another.
Do you see Jesus as a gift? How do you receive in your life? Indeed, all of life is an opportunity to open ourselves to the gift of Jesus and see the Father offer Him to us with love beyond all telling.
As we receive Jesus, we become transformed into a gift for others, as He is a gift to us.
Jesus becomes “gift” in us. Just as the Father offered His Son to humanity, and the Son offered Himself back to the Father until his dying breath, so too Christ in us makes us gift as He is gift. Receiving Jesus, we become gift to one another. We see all of life as gift. We recognize all of God’s gifts in our lives. We become the Father’s gift to each other. We become part of the Son’s gift back to His Father and our Father.
So how can you and I let ourselves be transformed into gift? Ask the Father to open you to the gift of His Son, and to make of you a gift, as His son or daughter.
Holy Spirit, pour the Father’s love into our hearts, so that Jesus may be gift in us. Amen.