Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent
“You received without charge, give without charge.”
Christmas fills me with dread every year. Somewhere along the line, we allowed Christmas to morph into this superficial, materialistic ‘winner take all’ contest, to see who can give and receive the coolest gifts. I know for a fact that everyone in the family hates it, so I’m not sure why we haven’t adopted a simpler approach to Christmas. Scripture says, “God loves a cheerful giver”. At this moment, I couldn’t be farther from it.
The word ‘give’ appears several times in today’s readings. We note in scripture that there are many kinds of ‘giving’. “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them” (Isa 30:20). Though we frequently associate ‘giving’ with good things, the most valuable life lessons are the ones we learn in times of suffering. God promises that He will watch over us and personally “bind up the wounds of his people and heal the bruises left by his blows” (Isa 30:26). Our suffering will not persist forever, but the wisdom gleaned from it will endure. God will come to His flock to right the wrongs.
“He will give rain for the seed that you sow in the ground, and the wheat that the soil produces will be rich and abundant” (Isa 30:23). Very often, we claim our successes as our own, never thinking that our hard work would be nothing without God’s grace. He knows what we need to be fulfilled, connects the dots forward for us, and then models for us what cheerful giving looks like. We are undeserving of His love and forgiveness, yet God perseveres with us. On what grounds then, is our anger justified when things don’t work out as we plan, or when people disappointment us? After all, we have been disappointments to God too, yet He remains faithful to us?
And finally… “Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.” “You received without charge, give without charge.” (Mt 10:1,8). This is the crux of our mission statement as Catholic believers. We are commanded to love God, love our neighbour and seek the good of the other. If the people we extend help to turn around and morph into entitled ingrates, we are to have faith that God will find a way to set right the balance. It’s a tall order, especially with the people who get on our nerves, but God deserves our best efforts to live by it. This is the season of giving after all. Let us ask God to grant us a spirit of endurance. All things are possible in Him!
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the patience and fortitude to get over the busy season of Christmas, without losing sight of God, ourselves and what it is we are celebrating.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the angels that God sends us to keep us on the narrow path that He has chosen for us.