Monday, December 7, 2015

Our Gifts Can Transform Lives

John the Baptist
In the Gospel according to Luke, John the Baptizer proclaims repentance:  prepare our hearts for the Lord.  In other words, help us to hear the Word of God more clearly and turn away from a self-centered life to a God-centered life, an other-centered life, so that we may see clearly the way to walk, the truth to speak and the life to live.

The author may be asking whether we, like John the Baptizer, are preparing to let Jesus, the Christ, enter into our lives.

The Hebrews throughout the centuries prayed for the Messiah to come.   This is what Advent is all about: praying for the Messiah to come. Yes, the Hebrews waited: in the exodus from Ancient Egypt; in the rise and fall of their kings; in the exile in Babylonia; and in their sufferings throughout foreign occupations.  And yet the Messiah did not seem to come in their tragedies.

And in many ways, we too, often pray for God to come to us, to rescue us from a crisis of one kind or another.

Parisians, e.g., may have asked the question in the recent massacre of 130 innocent people: Where was God?  I think of the Christians in the Middle East who lost innocent loved ones in mindless violence in Syria, in Iraq or Libya.  Or recently, the workers at a Christmas party in California.

Sometimes, we seem to walk in darkness; we seem to experience not the presence, but the absence of God.  And even if we don’t experience the absence, we are forever searching.

But God is forever looking for us.  Our faith proclaims loudly that God is indeed in our midst.   God is all around us.  He is in our community of faith. God is deep within ourselves, at the core of own being. 

St. Paul wrote: God’s favor has been revealed to us in Jesus.  God so loved us that he gave his only Son in the mystery of the incarnation.   Jesus crucified and risen anticipates what we hope to become.  And until he comes, you and I are to continue his ministry on earth.

Paul prays that we will possess true wisdom that will enable us to distinguish what really matters, so that we will choose right over wrong.  Do we pray for the wisdom to know what truly matters in life.

Many of us have begun our holiday shopping.  Here’s something to keep in mind.

Marian Wright Edelman, a well-known children’s advocate and author, recalls
in her autobiography, From Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors:  “I no longer remember most of the presents I found under the tree as a child.  But I carry with me and treasure the lessons in life my parents and my caring neighbors gave me throughout my childhood.”

Yes, some gifts really can transform lives: gifts of teaching, of listening and supporting, gifts of sharing our time and our experiences, gifts of compassion and affirmation.  I hope all of us will think of those enduring gifts that we can always give to one another.

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