Given to me

In the new life that is coming there are a number of scenes from the past that I would like to see replayed – perhaps on a heavenly U Tube! One is the moment that Napoleon discovered his genius.

Another goes further back to when humans invented the wheel, and, even earlier, when they discovered fire. Our story is a continuous discovery of gift. We say we imagined things, we discovered things and we invented things. In a way we did. But, in fact, everything is gift.

As we approach Christmas this comes more sharply into focus. Supermarkets like SHOPRITE highjack the C word to get us to buy each other gifts. Yet the event of Christmas is the greatest of all gifts: God coming to dwell among us to give us the fullness of life. This is not just a trite saying. St Irenaeus, drawing on the opening to the letter to the Ephesians, especially verse 10, loves the idea of Jesus “recapitulating” all things. He lived all the experiences of being human, including all the pain of rejection, suffering and death. And, in his rising from the dead, he led the way into the fullness of being human, which is to be divine.

This is the gift of Christmas: Jesus. God has given himself to us and given us the capacity to give ourselves for others. We do this through the variety of gifts that we each have.

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor and bind up hearts that are broken.  (Isaiah 61:1)

“Given to me.” Each one of us can hear these words. They applied to Israel. They applied to Jesus. They applied to the prophets. And they apply to me. We all, without exception, are a gift and have gifts. I have often spoken of Innocente, a young girl in Ivory Coast who was severely handicapped mentally and physically. Her only gift was to smile at those who spent time with her. And what a smile! No one gave her the Nobel Peace prize but she opened a door into another world with her smile and gave comfort to many a weary visitor.

Recently I read an ancient (1947!) Christmas homily by Fr Werenfried. “The roads to Bethlehem were crowded with people hurrying to the City of David. The rich pushed on ahead knowing there was limited accommodation and they snapped up all the available rooms. There was no room for Mary and Joseph was at his wits end. Lonely and forgotten they wandered forlornly among the crowds … Nothing much has changed. Mary and Joseph in their thousands still wander the roads of our world. People close their doors on the Giver of life and his gifts lie unopened at their threshold.

17 December 2017                  Sunday 3 B of Advent

Isaiah 61:1…11                                   1 Thessalonians 5:16-24                      John 1:6-8,19-28

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