Sunday, December 4, 2016

We are Gifts from God

How many of you have begun Christmas shopping?  We may be spending more time than we should in search of a “perfect gift.”

During Advent, I invite you to treasure the gifts or gems in your own house: family and friends, and colleagues and neighbors.

I sometimes think of what Marian Wright Edelman, a children's advocate, wrote in her autobiography: “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 good neighbors taught me throughout my childhood.”

Her point is simple: some gifts really can transform the lives of people we love: gifts of teaching, of listening and supporting, gifts of sharing time and experiences, gifts of compassion and forgiveness and affirmation.

Bernini's Holy Spirit Window
A prophet in Ancient Israel by the name of Isaiah speaks about an ideal king who possesses wisdom and intelligence, courage and empathy, good judgment, wonder and awe at our great God.  This king will exemplify the seven gifts of the Spirit bestowed upon us abundantly in the sacrament of Confirmation.  This ideal king, Isaiah says, will usher in a kingdom of peace, justice, truth and freedom.

Isaiah might ask us: Do we exemplify these gifts in our everyday lives.

The Advent season is really about “waiting.”  We do plenty of waiting, don’t we?

The ancient Hebrews, as Isaiah reminds us, often waited for the Messiah to rescue them.  We often pray to God to rescue us from a crisis of one kind or another.  We beg God to suddenly appear and make things right.  Think, e.g., of people who have lost loved ones in wars or addictions or accidents.  They may ask: where was God?

Yes, we often pray for God to rescue us or make this or that right.  And yet God seems silent, hidden.  But is God silent?   Is God hidden?

We profess that God is in our midst.  Not in a manger.  That happened centuries ago in Bethlehem.  Where is God?   All around us.   In nature, in sunrises and sunsets. God is in us, deep within our own selves.  Why?  Because we are a community of faith; and wherever two or three gather in Jesus’ name, there God is.   He is in the Word proclaimed; he is in the signs of bread and wine.   He is deep within us, at the core of our being.  

Let us pray during this Advent season that the Spirit of God that dwells within us will empower us anew to become better instruments of faith in God, hope in eternal life and love of one another.

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