Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Blessed 2013 to you all.
Below is a guest post by one of our faithful readers, Frances, and is perfect to reflect on as we begin another new year.
Christ has come, our Saviour is Born! This incomprehensible truth is the center of our celebration, and the reason for our joy. Sometimes, however, we miss this immense present from God and are distracted by everything going on around us throughout the Christmas season. I know that I often spend time working diligently to give to those around me and get things accomplished, but then forget to ponder God's great gift and respond to His love. I was reminded today that the first present ever was God's gift to man, Jesus. A saintly Trappist monk, Fr. Raymond, says it beautifully: "God has gifted you with Him who is Light and Truth, with Him who is Goodness and Beauty, with Him who is the Living Life. God has gifted you with Jesus Christ." We have received a precious present from God Himself. The question is, how should we respond?
There are two parts, or responses, to receiving a present... firstly, there is graciously and thankfully receiving. A gift is always acknowledged and the giver is thanked. We can do no less with God, we are called out of love to thank Him and treasure His gift. Secondly, one somehow attempts to return/reciprocate the gift in some way, which is why we often exchange gifts. Our response to someone showing their love is to show ours in return. Fr. Raymond sums it up perfectly, "God has gifted you with Jesus Christ-- and you must return God's gift... by making a gift of yourself to Him." Christmas is a time of giving, but it is primarily spiritual (the material is a reflection). By giving us Jesus, God is calling us to open our hearts to His grace and love, to grow more like Him. God created us for a distinct purpose, and he has shown us this purpose through Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection. Our gift is to live it fully, for our purpose is to give ourselves to God: to become another Christ, to become a saint. When I think of this I am usually overwhelmed. However, God has not placed sanctity beyond our reach. There have been saints in every age and walk of life. These men and woman have witnessed to Christ by their lives, love and the offering of themselves. As we enter into this season of Christmas let us open ourselves to not only receive God's gracious gift, but return it by giving of ourselves, living for Him and allowing Him to use us daily.