Everything in the Holy Scriptures Points to This Idea…
This simple phrase reveals the totality of the Christian life, properly understood. Everything in the Holy Scriptures points to this idea. To be a Christian is to accept that nothing is mine. All of my time on earth, all of my talents, and all of my treasure, is pure gift from God for which thanksgiving is the only just and right response. How do we give thanks? By serving others, joyfully. We give proper thanks by giving ourselves and all that we have for the greater good of others. And the evidence that supports this is everywhere in the Bible and in the teachings of the Church.
The very act of creation was an act of giving. The being, the existence of all things, visible and invisible, is an absolute and free gift from God. God continues to give life, meaning and purpose to all existence even now. He gave we human beings, the gift of his very own image and likeness. He breathes it into us every moment of our lives. All that is good in this world, all that is true, all that is beautiful is pure gift from an absolutely generous Creator.
The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is a perfect example of God’s giving nature. All we have to do is read Paul’s powerful, Holy Spirit inspired, words in Philippians 2:5-11, to see that the giving nature of God is total, and absolutely free. It is clear, too, that the act of giving is an act of love. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) And Jesus, the very gift of God in the flesh to us for our salvation, commands us to do the same: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) There is the center of the Holy Scriptures for us as Christians. All the rest is commentary. We are to imitate Jesus.
We are not perfect, and few among us have attained sainthood, but God wants to use each one of us, according to our abilities and our faith, to be his instruments of generous and unselfish love in the world. True love, as modeled to us by God, is always an act of self-giving, of self-emptying. To love is to give our all to the other, emptying ourselves for them. How else could we receive their giving acts of love in return if we are too full of our own selfish desires, demands, and concerns? This is hard for us. God knows that. Yet, he also knows what we are made of, what we are capable of, and he is ever willing to support our daily efforts to grow in our desire and our abilities to be people for others, just as Jesus was. The Father emptied himself, letting go of any claim on equality with divinity, and “took on the form of a slave, coming in human likeness,” in a supreme act of giving through the Incarnation. (Philippians 2:6-7) Then, Jesus, in another supreme act of self-giving, emptied himself to death on the cross. When he ascended into heaven, God emptied himself, yet again, leaving us his Holy Spirit to be with us until the end of time. This is the model that we Christians are given to follow. To be a Christian is to know the meaning of the phrase: “It is more blessed to give that to receive.” This is the life that was indelibly engraved on our souls at the moment of our baptisms.
Lord, you have shown us the way, the truth and the life, in Jesus. Help us in our weakness to develop hearts so full of love that they overflow in generous compassion, mercy, forgiveness and service to our families, our friends, our neighbors, and all those who suffer in any way. For, it is only when we empty ourselves that we are able to receive your love and your grace. These are enough for us. In Jesus’ name we pray.
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