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Gifts given and received

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Among God's many gifts, there is one that stands out from all the rest. It is the Eucharist: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the unique gift of God because the Eucharist is God, given in a way we can receive him.

Jaymie Stuart
Wolfe

Gift-giving is much more of an art than a lot of us (mostly men?) suspect. Choosing the right gift for the right occasion isn't easy. You know how it works. When you have a gift you need to buy, you have a hard time finding anything to get excited about. Unless, of course, it's at least four times what you're able to spend. You end up doing the best you can, and hoping the person you're buying it for will like it better than you do. Every once in a while, though, you happen upon something you know without a doubt a person will love. (Usually, it's when you aren't looking for it.) Whatever it is, it's just the right size, or style, or color. Just seeing it makes you think of the person you're buying it for, and you can hardly wait to see them open it.

Gift-receiving isn't much easier. I guess it's just one of those human nature things. We ask for something we think we want, and when we get it, we discover it wasn't what we wanted after all. Then, there are the gifts we receive politely, but rarely -- if ever -- use. We stuff them into the junk drawer or stash them behind the dresser or in the closet, and forget about them entirely. Then, one day, we find it, and either decide to use after all it or throw it away then and there.

For many of us, receiving God's gifts can be a similar experience. (I wonder what it's like on the giving side!) We can shrug our spiritual shoulders, raise our interior eyebrows, and question what God must have been thinking -- or even if he was. Almost all of us routinely refuse to accept at least some of what our Heavenly Father gives us. Much of what God gives us we politely receive and promptly stash safely away. I especially tend to do this with anything that is painful: you know, things that fall into the category of dying to self. Those are the opportunities God gives me to grow in holiness. To be honest, I don't always take him up on it.

Of course, there are some of God's blessings we are all thrilled to see come our way. Often, they are the material things we think will satisfy us. (You know, the ones that leave us asking if there isn't something more to life.) They might also be the talents and abilities we tell ourselves will be enough to make it through life on our own steam.

Among God's many gifts, there is one that stands out from all the rest. It is the Eucharist: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the unique gift of God because the Eucharist is God, given in a way we can receive him. The irony of it is that the simplicity and humility that enables us to receive the Creator of the Universe is what makes it so difficult for us to fully believe that we are, in fact, receiving him. And without faith, we cannot receive him.

I wonder how many times I have received -- and not received -- Holy Communion. I shudder to think about how often I have politely put away the graces and gifts of God unappreciated and unused. And for all those times I have frustrated the God who never tires of giving, the Father who will not be undone in generosity, I'm sorry. This Sunday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, we will celebrate and extol God's selfless gift of self. I don't know how successful I'll be or how long I'll be able to maintain it, but this week I'm going to do what I can to openly receive all God wants to give me. With gratitude and awe.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is the author of “Adoption: Room for One More?”, a speaker, musician and serves as an Aquisitions Editor at Our Sunday Visitor. Follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.

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