Thursday, January 13, 2011

Designed to Give

Most of us have heard of the seemingly trite saying it is better to give than to receive. Some of us already know this is true but some of us may not believe this is so. Its embarrassing to be immersed in a time where we focus on the receiving. We are lauded for looking out for ourselves. Perhaps one of the worst forms of focusing on the receiving is when you ask questions like what kind of presents am I getting? How much attention am I getting? How much love am I being shown? You focus on this too much and you can create a living hell.

Focusing on the receiving can be more subtle as well. Sometimes we don't want to put ourselves out by traveling too far or having to deal with uncomfortable circumstances unless remuneration is involved. In this culture, sometimes, we are looking for a windfall or take advantage of the goodwill of a friend. We want to negotiate the best terms at work, in relationship or with something we purchase or services we seek. So what are the fruits of this focus? When we succeed, although it may seem like we are winning, are we really satisfied? The questions can come..could I have gotten more? What else could I have gotten or what can I get next? You see the gap between more and infinity is so will never catch up!:-) Such is the plight of focusing on the receiving.

There are two types of giving as well, namely, the reciprocated and the charitable give. Examples of the charitable give do not include the tax-benefited Good Will donation:-.) Examples of the reciprocated kind are an exchange of gifts or alternating visits or dinners or anything that involves some equal give and take. Exchanging Christmas presents is nice, but that's not really what happened that first Christmas back in Bethlehem. The three wise men came bearing gifts. I don't remember them saying anything about Mary and Joseph giving gifts back let alone the baby Jesus doing so.

This past Christmas I sent Christmas cards, exchanged Christmas gifts, and celebrated in the company of friends. All of it was enjoyable including the giving and the receiving. However, deciding to volunteer at Little Sisters of the Poor and then magically and spontaneously deciding to pack some gifts for the residents there ended up being the most joyous part of my entire Christmas.

There are a variety of reasons why this might be. For one my giving was unexpected and assuredly unreciprocated. The only judgement and reaction to my gifts was one of surprise and gratitude. I gave without pretense and the motivation came straight from my heart. Not that this wasn't the case when I gave to family or friends but I did think a lot about how the gift will be received. I also at the very least thought subconsciously about what I may or may not receive. I'm sure I gave freely and lightly to the Little Sisters of the Poor for these and probably many other reasons.

Giving is a symbol of what we value, and it is obviously more than material. It can be in the form of our time, our care, our finances, our service and our love. Of course cultivating and caring for family and friends is important and in many ways more challenging than charitable giving. However, after my experience this past Christmas, I have to wonder if we are designed to receive the greatest joy in unreciprocated giving. And if so then why not share this joy with family and friends and invite them to celebrate in this joyous reality. Who knows it may even strengthen those bonds.

As we embark on the post Christmas season marked in our faith as ordinary time, let us take this joy and spread it throughout the year. Lets share it with those most dear to us. Let us always remind ourselves that the greatest joy is when we do what we are designed to do. And as God showed us through Christ, it may be that we are also designed to give.


Anonymous said...
January 19, 2011 at 2:15 PM  

I wish that the seed that sprout in your heart will grow nourished by love of those who will come in contact with you.
In Christ, Manuel

Post a Comment