The true gift: Surrendering to God
December 11, 2012
Every year, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States we have the now-famous “Black Friday,” a day in which we have the opportunity to purchase a variety of products at sometimes incredible prices to assist us in obtaining gifts to give to others for Christmas.
The root of this phenomenon is humanly curious, complicated and full of surprises. However, it is what happened on the first Christmas of history when God became a gift as a child wrapped in swaddling clothes that has been and will be the best gift that all human beings of every age receive.
Evoking these scenes on Black Friday, the following ideas come to mind and are exactly what I want to share with you, assiduous readers:
In one of the following Sundays of Advent, the liturgy proposes a passage from the letter of James, which begins with this exhortation, “Be therefore patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (5, 7). It seems particularly important because it emphasizes the value of perseverance and patience — virtues that seem less popular today and only occasionally lived in a world that celebrates, rather, the ability to change and adapt to new and different situations. Not withholding from aforesaid, Advent calls us to strengthen the inner tenacity, that resistance of spirit, that doesn’t let us despair waiting for a good that is slow in coming, and confidently prepare his coming operant. That patience, perseverance, tenacity and strength we see reflected in many of the buyers who make endless lines in the early hours of Black Friday to get what they yearn to buy. They wait, regardless of the weather, with the confidence that being present and attentive, they may gain that for which they have waited for so many hours.
Perhaps, our faith acts in this same way. Patience and constancy are precisely the synthesis between human commitment and trust in God.
But how can our hearts be strong if the culture in which we live in makes them more unstable?
“Strengthen your hearts,” says the Scripture. How can we do this? The help we need is the word and love of God. The word and love of God do not pass. If distractions and vicissitudes of life make us feel lost, confused and sometimes we seem to almost collapse; we have a compass to find direction and an anchor to keep us from drifting. That anchor and compass are in the word and love of God in which we find true strength, joy, and hope which does not disappoint us because it is based on God’s patience and constancy and His faithfulness for us.
We receive God’s many gifts and presents. In return, we are called to give gifts to Him and to each neighbor. The attitude of those who only want to receive gifts and give nothing — wanting others to deliver and not being willing to surrender — is the root of all the world’s problems.
This time of Advent speaks of the visit of God and invites us to prepare the way with confidence, patience and generosity. In the light of faith we can live in the disease, in the suffering, in the scarcity, a very particular Advent experience, very opposite of what our culture is selling daily. The visit of God that comes in a very mysterious way to meet us, free us from loneliness and the meaninglessness of this culture of death, to live Christmas in the lifestyle of the Christ child is to become a gift for others.
May this Christmas be a small sample of our love to baby Jesus, of our willingness to live our faith, of our willingness and generosity to give freely what we have received for free. May we all be willing to surrender.
Maritza C. Roman-Pavajeau is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Family Life Ministry