Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The Gift and the Giver
I am historically distracted by holidays - Advent, Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, 4th of July and Columbus Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day (which I inevitably get mixed up), Lent and Easter. I know what each celebration is supposed to be about but it is so easy to get caught up in. . . well . . . everything else! This Thanksgiving proved no different. We ate turkey and drank wine (both delicious). We watched football and played football (still sore). We shopped and we cursed shopping (with the exception of Bass Pro Shop which was a hit all around). Yet I enter back into another week wondering if all the festivities left me, in a word, thankful? Do I find myself closer to my family, to my friends, to God?
This point was beautifully made by a 10th century mystic who was asked by one of his disciples, “If you could choose one thing from God, either great joy or great suffering, which would you choose?” After deliberating for some time, the wise sage responded, “I would choose great suffering.” Utterly perplexed the disciple inquired, “Why?” The humble master offered up a tender smile and said, “Because then I could be sure that my choosing was not for the gift but for the Giver.”
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that everything boils down to one essential gift. “The gift of God is God himself. The ‘good things’ he gives us are himself.” With all of the accoutrements and good tidings of the holiday season, it is so easy to lose sight of the one essential thing (Lk 10:42). I pray (and ask for your prayers) that we might remember that Jesus Christ is the great treasure and the pearl of great price. Our greatest gift informs our greatest privilege. Our greatest gift is the same as the one expressed by the Bishop of Rome, “to help foster the growth of a living relationship with him.”
By the way, it is National Bavarian Cream Pie Day.