Saturday, December 17, 2011

Giving and Receiving

Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B

We all know that Christmas time is a time for giving. We are busy buying presents for one another. We try to choose the gift that will suit the person. But the truth is: many of us actually choose gifts that we would like. Because we like the gift, we often think that the other person would like it too.

This was what King David in the first reading thought. Being old now and having fought many wars, He thought that he could now retire and enjoy his life for the rest of his years. And yet, he felt guilty that he had not done enough for God. Therefore, David decided to build a temple to house the ark of the Covenant. It was his gift to God. Little did he realize that that was not what God wanted from him.

Instead of King David making a gift of the temple to God, the reverse happened – God blessed David and promised him a dynasty, a house, that will last forever. Instead of David attempting to glorify God by building the temple, God chose to glorify David – to make him great in the midst of all nations.

Many of us think that if we want to be good Christians, we must be able to give something which is precious to God. We think that we can bribe God with our gift. This is not so. Being good Christians, first and foremost, means learning to receive and accept from God’s hands whatever he wishes to give us.

This was the quality of Mary. She had nothing to give God. She was a young fourteen year old girl. No one takes a child or a teenager seriously. What could she offer God? She was a woman. In Jewish society, women were second class citizens – they were only a little higher than the servants. She had no possession, no talent, no power to offer to God. Yet God chose her as the mother of His Son and He blessed her. She had won God’s favour only by being attentive to God’s will. She had won God’s favour only because she was ready to ‘listen.’ Mary is great because she learnt how to receive and accept from the hands of God whatever He wished to give her.

Today, we may think that we have nothing to give God. That may be true – no gift of ours is worthy. Everything that we have comes from God. What we are capable of giving isn’t that important. The question we must ask ourselves- are we prepared to receive from God’s hands? To be the receiver instead of the giver places us in the power of the giver. We can’t choose the gift. We can only choose to accept or reject whatever is given to us. Sometimes, that can be frightening. But there is nothing to be afraid off. We are called to place our lives in the hands of God. We must allow God to take control of our lives.

Let us unite our voices with the voice of Mary: “I am the handmaid of the Lord” – “We are merely the servants of God”. “Let what you have said be done to me.”

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