REFLECTION: Gifts to one another PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 November 2014 11:33



With  Christmas just a few weeks to go, I am sure the idea of gift-giving is very much in our mind. We either look forward to it or are scared of it, or both. We know that something in us wants to give gifts to our loved ones, but obviously there are some constraints that we have to contend with. Availability of funds, for example.

This is where we have to be reminded of the whole theology of gift-giving, which is not meant to spoil our spontaneous instinct to give, but rather to deepen, purify and strengthen it, so that that instinct would truly correspond to our ultimate dignity as persons and children of God. That way we avoid being played around simply by worldly motives.

Again, let’s acknowledge that in the end it’s our faith that gives us the whole picture about this matter. That’s why we have to go into the theology of it, and not just follow our blind impulses and the intoxicating trends and the passing fads and fashions of the times. It’s faith that gives us what is right and wrong about it.

We cannot deny—the pieces of evidence are just aplenty—that this whole business of gift-giving is now often corrupted by the viruses of commercialism and materialism, often provoking us to envy, vanity and the like. The natural human desire to give is now practically distorted by these powerful evil forces that seem to rule the world today.

Let’s do our part to clarify and purify things to bring out once again the true beauty of gift-giving. What is its basis, what is its purpose, its pattern are some questions we need to answer properly. Is it necessary and to be lived all the time, and how can it be practicable in any circumstance we may find ourselves in?

It’s good that we have clear ideas about these points so that we would be confident that we are doing things right. We avoid having a fatalistic attitude to life. Rather, with this sure knowledge of what we are doing, we would be fostering our true freedom.

Truth is we have to be gifts to one another. That’s simply because we have been made by God out of sheer goodness, of complete gratuitousness. And since we are his image and likeness, we have to realize that we too are expected to treat God and others out of sheer goodness and gratuitousness. That’s what being a gift is.

When we do something, we have to see to it that our primary intention that should give the color to other intentions we may have is to do that thing out of love of God, out of sheer goodness.

This should be the constant and ultimate motive for all of our thoughts, words and actions even if this motive is also conditioned by some practical purposes. We should not allow this radical motive to be compromised by the other practical motives that we also are interested.

This truth about ourselves is somehow dramatized in that gospel passage where Christ encourages us to say, after doing something, even something heroic, “We are unprofitable servants, we have done what we were obliged to do.” (Lk 17,10)

It’s a good slogan to keep in mind, a most helpful reminder of how our attitude should be with respect to whatever deeds and accomplishments we may have in life. Yes, we are just doing what we ought to do, as God our Creator has designed and sanctioned it to us.

Everything has to be done as an act of love, as an act of gratuitous self-giving, as a gift. We have to so strengthen this conviction as to enable us to resist the common temptation of doing things because of the more practical reasons like to earn money, to attain a certain sense of security, to amass wealth, power, fame, etc.

We have to remember that whatever we do can never be fully quantified and translated in terms of money and some worldly criteria, because our work is first of all a spiritual affair, requiring faith, hope and charity. As such, it cannot be reduced to some quantifiable terms, though, human as we are, with material and temporal needs, we make what we consider as fair estimations of what is due to us materially.

This is why we always need to rectify our intentions when we work, so that we can always fulfill the basic law governing us—that is, that we do everything as a gift, as an act of gratuitous love, proper to our dignity.