IN THIS ISSUE
From the desk of
Fr. Louis Studer, O.M.I.
The Way of Lights
Christ is Alive...
Finding God in
Healing & Hope
Why Do We...
Why Do We...
Most of us are so busy buying or making Christmas gifts that we don’t have time to question why we are giving gifts. It is just something we do and our goal is to get the job done, whether our strategy is to shop all year or get everything at the last minute.
Christmas, of course, isn’t the only time of the year we give gifts. We help fuel our economy with gifts to mark milestones, such as birthdays and anniversaries; other holidays, ranging from Valentine’s Day and Easter to Mother’s and Father’s Days; accomplishments, such as the birth of a baby, graduations and retirements; and religious events, including baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages, and ordinations. Sometimes we even give gifts when no special occasion is involved.
Christmas stands out from all other gift-giving occasions because it is the one time when everyone gets gifts. This inclusiveness is so important to us that we adopt poor families, sponsor giving trees at our churches, and donate to toy and food drives in an effort to be certain no one is without at least one Christmas gift.
There are a number of reasons behind gift-giving. Tradition is one, particularly at Christmas and birthdays. We may give gifts to reward another’s behavior—such as getting a good report card. And we sometimes give gifts simply to bring joy or pleasure to another. In addition, we can’t overlook the reality that giving someone something usually makes us feel good.
All of these reasons, however, just scratch the surface of the motivation behind our gift-giving. History traces the practice of giving gifts to pagan times. The Bible goes back even further, revealing that the source of all gift-giving is God, our Creator. From the moment of creation, God has continually showered us with gifts and will never stop doing so.
Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, there is a generosity innate in us that drives our desire to give gifts to one another. Our gifts to others, like God’s gifts to us, are a way of expressing our love to the recipients. When we give a gift we are saying, “I love and care about you. I was thinking of you when I bought or made this gift and I am thinking of you now as you open it.”
Although we tend to associate gift-giving with material things, the most valuable gift we can give to others is ourselves. God gives Himself to us as the Savior who gave His life for us, as the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, and as the Creator waiting to welcome us into eternal life. We reciprocate by giving ourselves to others.
We do this in countless ways throughout every ordinary day. Through our work, during recreational time, within family moments, and even with strangers, we give ourselves to one another. It matters not whether our gift is small, such as a kind word, or large, such as caring for one who is sick. The value in terms of love is beyond measure.
At Christmas, some people today emphasize the giving of self by making their own gift certificates which can be redeemed for such things as babysitting, drives to the doctor, an afternoon of playing cards, or any activity that says, “I love you so much that I want to be with you.”
When it comes to giving gifts, we are the treasures to be given, even though the wrapping may be rumpled and the gift inside marked with imperfections. We are invaluable because within us lives God, who loves us all.