Receiving the Gift

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Deacon Eric Mashak

Christmas PresentThis is awesome! This Gospel. What a gift God wants to give us: Salvation, Himself, Heaven. The parable of the mustard seed which becomes the massive tree is symbolic. The mustard seed is the grace and faith which God gives us in this life; often times it seems so small that we hardly notice it. The huge tree is the fruition of what God has started in us by His grace; God bringing us to Himself: Heaven.

This is an amazing gift. Probably, many of you are good at giving gifts. There is a certain pleasure in giving the perfect gift to someone at a special occasion; birthdays, Christmas, or at holidays. Some of you may know a certain type of gift giver whom we would call a ‘re-gifter.’ You know, that person who has everything that they want, and who doesn’t keep any gift they receive; instead they give it away to someone else. There was one such person, a ‘re-gifter,’ who happened to be a priest from Detroit, Michigan. He was not only a ‘re-gifter’ but even an ‘expert re-gifter’ because he would receive a gift and then keep it for a decade to avoid getting caught re-gifting. One Christmas he was given a small Christmas Ornament by a family in his parish. As usual he briefly looked it over, put it back in the box, and set the box on his shelf in the closet … and didn’t give the ornament another thought for over ten years!

Obviously, this is no way to receive a gift! … and the gift of faith and of Heaven, which God wants to give you, are infinitely more precious than any gift we know how to give. This is because God desires to give you Himself! It’s not like God wants to give you some random object. He wants to give you Himself—and that is what Heaven is: the Beatific Vision is unmediated vision of God. After all, between true lovers, only the gift of self will do. I don’t want more cars … more money … more vacations! The best thing that you can give to someone is yourself … and that is exactly what God desires to give you.

Two weeks ago we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. We learned of that beautiful exchange which happens between the Three Divine Persons, and we know that the Holy Trinity, which is God, is inexhaustible … we can’t get bored with God. He is a gift which surpasses everything we have ever known; He cannot be passed over briefly or forgotten.

And so that Christmas Ornament sat on that priests shelf in his closet for 10 years … 12 years … 15 years, until finally he moved to a different parish. It was at that moment that he thought he could ‘re-gift’ the ornament with no one being the wiser. He decided to give the ornament to some parishioners whom he did not know very well. A few days later they came to his office in tears to thank him … and the priest was very surprised at this … because, after all, wasn’t it only a small Christmas Ornament. The parishioners saw his confusion at their heartfelt thanks and explained to the priest. “Father, when we looked closely at the ornament and found the hidden latch on the back … and when we opened it and found the $500 dollars which you had hidden inside for us … we were very surprised! We didn’t know that you loved us so much!” The priest thought to himself, “Me neither!

Some gifts take time to appreciate! The gift of grace and of salvation, which God wants to give us, takes time to unpack. The gift which God makes of Himself to us is like the Christmas Ornament: You have to spend time with it. You can’t get it all in one go. How are we to receive such a gift? For St. Paul tells us in the second reading (to the Corinthians), “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ … so that each might receive recompense … whether good or evil.” This gift is received through death and judgement—places we would not expect to look. This gift of salvation is found on the same path that Jesus walked. Our standard of success cannot be different from that of Christ: who suffered and died for us. From the Garden of Gethsemane to the Carrying of the Cross, to His Crucifixion and Death, all the way to His Glorious Resurrection. We receive salvation ONLY in our Crucified and Risen Lord. So please, this week, spend some time with the gift that God wants to give you … in the sacraments … or in your own homes with 10 minutes of good quality prayer each day — get to know your Lord! 10 minutes a day may seem small … like a mustard seed, but in the end it makes a huge difference … perhaps an eternal difference.

As we gather before this altar to receive Jesus Christ, in His Body and Blood, may we ask for the grace to come to know Him and to love Him … so intimately that we would place all of our trust and confidence in Him—in His power to save us—such that at our particular judgement (that great moment when we come face to face with love itself) we might hear the words, not only of our judge, but also of our friend: “Well done, my good and faithful servant, come, share in your master’s joy.”

One Response to “Receiving the Gift”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Nice :)

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