“It is more blessed to give than to receive” seems to be the general assumption among those who have relative material prosperity. It certainly is a joy to give.
On a recent Mother’s Day, my 7-year-old granddaughter persuaded her dad to take her to the store so she could pick out presents for her mother. She knows what her mother likes, and she enjoys giving gifts. Giving also can be not in material things but in giving of oneself. Some share professional knowledge and do helpful things such as developing a system to monitor and maintain precious wells that provide water for communities whose water-needs shape their lives. Some, as teachers, give their creativity and energy to draw out the best from students. Some give to others a listening ear and a sense of being loved and important. There are so many ways to give oneself.
Some people are very willing to give to others, but never acknowledge any need themselves and therefore avoid the experience of receiving. I think receiving is a gift in itself. When I took my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education in a local hospital, I was given a badge that included my name and the title of chaplain. That badge meant that I was received by people and allowed to give the services I already was able to give but had had no place where those gifts could be received. I was very grateful for the badge. Both giving and receiving are important.
The ultimate gift we celebrate at Christmas is the birth of Jesus. We have been given stories about his birth, ministry, death and resurrection. But unless we are enabled to receive the meaning of these stories, we, like many before us, miss the gift.
What is your experience of giving and receiving? In what way might you be called to do more of one or the other than you have been doing?
Who is Jesus for you? What is the gift of Christmas for you, if any?
For persons who are homeless, for newborn babies, for young families, for people who are traveling, for peace and goodwill to all we pray. Let us see the star. May we receive your gift of love.
For further reflection:
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (See John 4: 1-26).
“Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete” (See John 16: 24).