Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
We have come to the end of Advent and there is little time left to shop for Christmas. So people are checking their list and checking it twice to be sure that they do not miss anyone. Now they will spend a lot of time, energy and worry pacing up and down the malls, reading the ads in the paper and surfing the internet to get just the right gift for each person on their list. When Christmas comes they will be exhausted.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was one gift that was perfect for everyone, one gift that fits all? Well, thanks be to God there is. There is a gift that fits all. It is not something you can put under the tree. It is not something you can buy from Macy’s or Neiman Marcus. It is priceless. It is the gift that God gave you. It is you, yes you, the unique, unrepeatable, indispensable you. The gift that fits all is the gift of self.
The gift of self is what Christmas is all about. John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (John 1: 1-14) Paul puts it this way, “…though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself taking the form of a slave coming in human likeness…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2: 6-8) The gift of self is also what our daily Christmas, the Eucharist, is all about. “Take and eat; this is my body…Drink from it all of you, for this is my blood…” (Matt. 26: 26-28)
How foolish it is to think that Christmas could be anything less than the giving of self, of our love, our peace, our joy! But each year the world tries to change Christmas into a purely commercialized, secular celebration. More and more each year, it exploits Christmas as a marketing strategy which officially begins with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade broadcast nationally in front of the Macy’s Department Store. The last float in the parade features Santa Clause ushering in the biggest shopping season of the year. The purpose, of course, is to engulf us in a sea of consumerism, consumerism that is disguised as gift-giving; gift-giving that is used as a substitute for the genuine gift of self.
But wait a minute! Check the list again! We have forgotten someone! Whose birthday are we celebrating anyway? What about the gift for Him? Isn’t it amazing! We are celebrating the birthday of Jesus and we give gifts to everyone else! We are guilty of the very thing we warned others about: “Keep the Christ in Christmas,” “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But what gift could we possibly give? What gift would Jesus want? The only gift Jesus wants is the gift He has given us on the first Christmas, the gift he gives us daily in the Eucharist, the gift of self, the one gift that fits all.
“Take and receive, O Lord, all my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I am and all that I possess; I surrender it all to you that you may dispose of it according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace; with these I will be rich enough and will desire no more.”
Birthday Jesus and a Merry Christmas to all!
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