By Fr. Paul Stark, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry
Only twelve more days--shopping or otherwise--remain until Christmas, so the traditional carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas," may come to mind. This song, playing on a continuous loop it seems nearly everywhere we go, may reflect feelings of the occasional frenzy of our time and this season.
The frenetic tempo and the building lyrics of ever increasing gift-giving and clearly rampant commercialism may be our own anthem at this time of our year. We may feel like we are searching for the "swans-a-swimming" or "the maids-a-milking" or "lords-a-leaping". Or we may we may be more practical by seeking out the "gold rings," the "geese-a-laying" or just a "partridge in a pear tree." Of course, we need to have a list of items and their quantity--ever-increasing in cost--to get everything right.
Most of us cannot afford the price of all the gifts in this song--more than $100,000--but that is not the important part of the carol. The gifts are given by my true love, and these extraordinary gifts are meant to be clear symbols of that love.
In Advent, throughout the season and this close to Christmas, we need to take a deep breath, to regain some clarity of thought, and remember that the importance of this time is the love God has for each of us and the real gift of the season, Jesus, a gift without price or measure. Our challenge is to reflect this same love in the gifts we give others, primarily because this is the gift we have received, in such abundance. This love is a far better gift than any maids-a-milking; this love is the true gift we receive and give. Geese-a-laying, indeed!
As we continue to prepare for Christmas, to welcome the greatest gift of love, we can remember that the greatest gift has already been given us, to each and to all. We are called to share that love with others, through the gifts we give, to be sure, but more importantly in the gifts of our time and ourselves that we can afford to give to those most in need.
Remember: in a matter of days we will celebrate a God who became one of us, so that we will never forget that He loves us beyond our understanding. Wow.