What Can We Give Jesus? 3 Gifts for a Savior

Have you ever thought of what to give Jesus?

I chanced upon this unique figurine in the mall with Old Saint Nick, kneeling before the baby Jesus. I was surprised because I hardly see these two together in pictures. Most of the time I would imagine Santa magically riding his reindeer-powered sleigh, climbing down chimneys and secretly giving gifts to the “nice kids” on his list. Businesses would ride on this imagery, presenting their products as the “perfect gift” for  loved ones. Jesus would be the vulnerable and humble baby surrounded by angels, animals, shepherds, and the Holy Couple. Often, we would remind each other that Jesus is the reason for the season — that the Savior has come! He is God’s perfect gift to humanity.

Perhaps we can have a contrast of “commercial” versus “salvational.” In the joyous season of Christmas, our schedules are filled with nightly parties and reunions. Malls are extra busy — no, crazy — with people buying gifts of all sorts, clothes, toys, and food. It’s all fun and in good spirit, yet Christmas can be really “commercialized.”

Then there’s the salvational reason for Christmas. We prepare ourselves in Advent, using the time of waiting to reflect on our lives — and what the mystery of Jesus’ coming means to us. And so, during Christmas, we encounter an image of Jesus that is most significant: a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

I come to reflect what God in baby form means, since I have four kids who were all once new born babies that I held right after their birth. In my vivid memory, they all did similar things: they fed on their mom’s milk; they had to be “burped”; they cried with urgency; they pee’d and pooped; they needed changing; and most of all, they were dependent.

How can the Logos, The Word, Creator of everything, all Powerful God — be helplessly dependent in the hands of humanity? Of all places for a hospital, a stable for animals. Of all cribs to lay and rest, a manger. How could have God entrusted His own Son to be part of human history — a history of fallible people and in constant need of mercy?

Yet, we are saved. God, with his full trust to humanity, succeeds in opening up Heaven through Jesus, our sole mediator, who “reconciles the world unto himself.” [1]

Claus can give us a warm and fuzzy feeling about Christmas, but only Christ can give us grace and mercy without measure. Gloria in excelsis Deo! Glory to God in the Highest! Glory to the baby in swaddling clothes, who was a joy to Mary and Joseph. Glory to the one who was born of Mary’s flesh — fully human and fully divine!

“Come let us bow down and worship Him. Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker.” (Psalm 95)

For the free gift of salvation, what then can we give back to our Savior? I can of think of three:

1. The Gift of Space.

Prepare Him room.

How much room does Jesus have in our hearts? I believe it is not about giving Him some space. It’s about giving Jesus the whole space, and allowing Him to transform the unfit and undesirable “manger of our hearts” into a place where He can reign. We can imagine Joseph and Mary knocking at our hearts and asking, “Is there room for Jesus?”

The song “Joy to the World”, expresses this: “Prepare Him room, prepare Him room. And Heaven and Nature sing . . . ”

What joy there is in Heaven and Earth when we give Jesus the Gift of Space!

2. The Gift of Self.

Jesus gives His whole self to us; and so we give our whole self to Him.

To consecrate ourselves to Jesus, is what we can give as gift. My son asked, “Dad, what does consecrate mean?” Merriam-Webster says that it means “dedicated to a sacred purpose.” What is our sacred purpose? How can we offer our lives to be consecrated? St. John Paul II shares:

Speaking of the lay faithful the Council says: “For their work, prayers and apostolic endeavours, their ordinary married and family life, their daily labour, their mental and physical relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life if patiently borne-all of these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Pt 2:5). During the celebration of the Eucharist these sacrifices are most lovingly offered to the Father along with the Lord’s body. Thus as worshipers whose every deed is holy, the lay faithful consecrate the world itself to God”. [2]

In every deed, “if carried out in the Spirit,” is a pleasing offering to God. The Gift of Self — our whole being, our every action can be made holy. Despite our sinfulness, there is an abundance of mercy. Despite our doubts, we are made for a purpose. Let us then look at our own talents — our giftedness — and think, “How am I using these to spread the Gospel?”

3. The Gift of Service.

Accept the true joy that Jesus is offering through service.

Jesus promises us “complete joy.” [3] There is no greater happiness than making others happy. This joy of service is not born out of pity or a sense of guilt or having a goal to “feel good” about ourselves. It comes from a desire to serve Jesus in the guise of the poor and broken-hearted. One of the greatest services that we can give is to forgive, as well as to ask forgiveness. To initiate the humble service of dialogue and reconciliation — especially among family. Jesus taught us to be “servant of all.” Pride has no room in genuine service. When we are liberated from pride, we experience profound joy and freedom — a true happiness. No wonder it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” [4] The Gift of Service, as reminded by Pope Francis, should bring us out of comfort zones — and towards the “peripheries.” [5]

As we gaze upon the gifts under the Christmas tree, we feel excitement and delight. What could be underneath the wrapper? As we open, there is a sensation of happiness. Yet, to the one who has given the gift — even a greater joy is felt because his gesture made a difference. Our Lord would be happy to receive our gifts of space, self and service. Yet, it is us who benefit from the freedom and love of this act of giving.

 

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[1] Cf. 2 Corinthians 5: 19

[2] Pope John Paul II, Christifideles laici 14

[3] Cf. John 15:11

[4] Acts 20:35

[5] Pope Francis, Evangelii gaudium 20

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