December 18, 2009

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

The greatest gift is ours to share with God and others

Rick HermannA pastor looked at the crèche one day after Christmas and noticed Baby Jesus was missing from his cradle.

He went outside and saw a little boy pulling a new red wagon. In the wagon was the missing Jesus.

He walked up to the boy and said, “Hi there. Where did you get the Baby Jesus?”

The little boy replied, “In the church.”

“Why did you take him?” the pastor asked.

“Well,” said the boy, “I prayed to Jesus and promised him that if he gave me a wagon for Christmas, I’d take him for a ride in it.”

Does this story evoke fond memories in you of a favorite gift you gave or received?

Perhaps it was a doll, a bike, a red wagon or a puppy. Maybe it was a ring, a spouse, a child or a house.

We are blessed with many gifts, material and spiritual, and we are wise to remember where all gifts come from, especially the gift of life itself: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (Jas 1:17).

Thus, we thank God for all our gifts, and we marvel at the diversity of our unique gifts. “Each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (1 Cor 7:7).

What is your favorite gift, your red wagon? Is it rusty or do you appreciate it?

Maybe it is being a friendly person, good parent, inspiring teacher or loving caregiver.

Perhaps you are gifted with patience, encouragement or the ability to sing or pray.

Even the smallest gifts can have great consequences. We need to see all our gifts and talents as priceless presents from God.

We did not create them, we do not deserve them and we certainly cannot repay them except by using them wisely and well.

How does God want us to respond? With joy and gratitude. “Rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you” (Dt 26:11).

Now suppose we ask God to name his favorite gift to us, the one we should cherish above all the others. What do you think he would say?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

God’s greatest gift is his Son, Jesus Christ, who offers to forgive our sins and reconcile us with our Father.

Since our self-love often disconnects us from God, we delight in this reconciliation with gratitude.

“We also rejoice through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom 5:11).

Thus, Jesus reconciles us with our Father, the Great Gift Giver. He opens the doors of heaven to us, right now, this very day, this very moment.

Now suppose we ask God what is the best gift we can give him in return?

It is the gift of ourselves. Just as Jesus gave himself to us, he wants us to give ourselves wholeheartedly to him and rejoice in his love.

He also wants us to use our gifts to help others and thus show them his love. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others” (1 Pt 4:10).

Like the little boy in the story who pulls Jesus in his wagon, let us use our gifts to show other people the real Jesus more clearly. After all, our Savior is truly the greatest gift to the whole world so let’s show him to everyone.

Wherever you go, enjoy your gifts and take Jesus along for the ride.

(Rick Hermann of St. Louis is a Catholic author and career coach. His e-mail address is

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