"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Monday, December 2, 2013


$1.87 -- that was all Della had, after scrimping and saving, to buy her Jim a Christmas present. So she sold her long beautiful hair -- her prized possession -- to buy him a chain for his watch -- his prized possession -- only to learn that he had sold his watch to buy her combs for her hair, which was now gone.

I read the kids one of my favorite Christmas stories this evening -- “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. “The magi, as you know, were wise men -- wonderfully wise men -- who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents.”

We talked about sacrificial giving. And we talked about the bits of selfishness, the lack of generosity, and the sense of entitlement I have noticed creeping into their hearts of late and how it saddens me. One of the kids came back an hour later, with tears in her eyes. Her conscience had told her Mom might be right.

Later, as I sat and pondered my day, I was painfully aware of my own selfishness and lack of generosity. I didn’t get near what I wanted to done today. I was annoyed by interruptions. I was irritated by having to do and say the same things more than once. I wanted to be left alone. And I reflected: How often do I respond to love’s demands in this way? Too often.

Judging by my reflection, it becomes clear to me that my time could be considered my prized possession, and I am aware of the misplaced desire in my heart that my time be my own. And so an Advent resolution becomes clear as well: To sacrifice this prized possession for love of my family. To look up from my work into the eyes of the child pleading for my attention. To put aside a to-do list in favor of a board game or a book once in a while. To put my arm around the child who wants to talk, rather than to hurry her off to bed. To let go of what I think I need to do at any given moment and to pay attention to those around me. To be so ravaged by love as to outdo myself in generosity, as Della did.

“And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.”

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