Remember the song, “Do you hear what I hear?” A couple of years ago I sang that song in church. Unfortunately, I messed up a line. Where I should have sung, “Let us give him silver and gold,” I sang, “He will give us silver and gold.” (Even with the words in front of me I messed up!)
No, I don’t think Jesus came to give us silver and gold; and make us materially rich. But as I thought about it, those words are very true in another way. I say that God gives us gifts of bronze, silver and gold.
1) Bronze makes me think of all the gifts of creation: the mountains and oceans, bluebirds and butterflies, daffodils and roses, dogs and kittens, food and drink, air and water, sunsets and rainbows…and on and on.
God says, “Look at all the gifts of creation I’ve given you, and see how much I love you.”
2) Sliver makes me think of the gift of human life. God gives us life, with bodies that can work and play, brains to think and learn, ears to hear music, eyes to see beauty, feet to run and dance, hands to reach out and help, emotions to feel, a free will to choose, and hearts to love.
Besides, God gifts us with a rich variety of people. We especially give thanks for the gift of family and friends, teachers and public servants.
God says, “Look at the wonder of human life, and look at all the beautiful people I placed in your life, and see how much I love you.”
3) Finally, God gives us the gold that is Jesus. St. John tells us that, “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son” (John 3:16).
Jesus comes and gives us the gift of his words and example, the gift of his death and resurrection, the gift of faith and forgiveness, the gift of the Holy Eucharist and the sacraments, the gift of uniting himself with our suffering and giving it meaning, the gift of Mary for our mother, and the gift of hope for eternal life.
Our response is to give resounding thanks. So here at Mass we give ourselves, with Jesus, as gift to the Father as our way of saying “Thank you.” The Father receives our gift and gives us Jesus back in Holy Communion. This holy exchange of gifts makes every Mass like Christmas.
This Christmas Season, along with all the decorations on our houses, trees and presents, let us add the decoration of a smile on our face. In the words of Rev. Charles Swindoll,
“Joy is the flag that flies above the castle of our hearts,
telling people that the Heavenly King is in residence there!”
Let us smile, laugh, dance, sing and rejoice! “Emmanuel.” God is with us! Christmas is now.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/.