I recently spoke to a group of youth here in Italy and asked: “How long does the pleasure from getting something like a new iPhone last?” Surprisingly –or perhaps not– more than one (in different situations) responded: “2 weeks.”
How often is that we break our backs toiling for things that give us back so little. Worse, we do the same when dealing with others. When we ask “What gifts can I buy for others this Christmas?”, what are the first things that come to mind? Perhaps something along the lines of an Amazon wish-list. Still, let’s be honest, what are we giving them?
I fear that many, including myself, struggle to enter into a different logic when giving to others. We rather the safe route, giving what others give and what we are told to buy. However, the gift who is Christ invites us to employ a different way of seeing things.
Not only is he THE GIFT, he also teaches us how we too are to give.
1. He gives himself entirely. You will find no conditions or disclaimers attached.
2. He gives himself lovingly. He gives for the benefit of the others; nothing is more valuable than the growth and happiness of the other. Spoiling exaggerated, whimsical desires has no place here.
3. He gives himself intelligently. Knowing what the other needs only comes from spending time face-to-face, inserting oneself in the other’s lives and discovering what it is that they truly need.
4. He gives himself freely. Jesus doesn’t give just because “it’s that time of year” or “that’s what people expect”. He does it because he loves, and he desires nothing else but to share his riches.
5. He gives himself apostolically. Christ had one passion: his Father. All that he did, he did so as to bring others to his Father (cfr. Jn 17). Do we do the same? How can our gifts lead others to a deeper relationship with God?
To be clear about this final point, I am not arguing that we always must give religious gifts. We do, however, need to keep in mind the impact of our gifts and strive to select certain things that will guide people in the right direction.