A couple of weeks ago I visited our grade two class at St. Gabriel’s. They were very busy, intensely coloring angels trying so hard to stay within the lines. We talked a bit about Christmas. The truth of the matter is, Santa Claus was more interesting to these children that the infant of Bethlehem. One told me that a kid he knows in grade four told him there was no Santa Claus. I said, ‘well older kids they think they know everything but they don’t do they?’ They all shook their heads, ‘No they don’t.’ There’s a Santa Claus.
Of course Santa Claus means gifts and gifts are very important at Christmas, especially for children. Tonight and tomorrow calls to ‘save the wrapping and the bows’ are lost as eager hands tear into beautifully and carefully wrapped gifts. And then there’s the usual question, “is that all, isn’t one more?” We can’t imagine a Christmas without exchanging gifts. For days after today the most asked question will be, ‘what did you get for Christmas?’
That’s what it’s all about – gifts. In the beautiful Christmas story told in the gospel, a story we never tire of hearing, it is all about gifts. God so loved the world, God gifted His Son to the world. All the Scriptures used for this feast tell of gifts, “a child has been born for us, a son given to us, the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all, to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord, the goodness and the loving kindness of God our savior has appeared, the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.”
At this Mass we are given a gift. The Christ of Bethlehem, the Christ of Calvary, the Christ of the Resurrection says to us; ‘this is my body, take and eat, this is my blood, take and drink’. In this Mass Christ gifts us with His very self.
There was a song out years ago that told the story of a women who gave the boot to her boyfriend and the important words and message of the song were these, “flowers, perfume, candy, but you, you never gave me you, you never gave the greatest gift of all, you never gave me you.’
No matter how expensive, how beautiful, how rare or how simple the gifts we give to others this Christmas, be they flowers, perfume or candy, they pale before the greatest gift of all, the gift of ourselves. This is a gift we are challenged to give every day of the year. We give this gift in the simplest of ways when we give the gift of our time, the gift of our attention, the gift of our interest, the gift of our presence, the gift of our love, the gift of our forgiveness. In these gifts we give the greatest gift of all.
At the Christmas Mass Christ gives us the greatest gift of all, Himself in the Eucharist we receive. As we continue this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that having been nourished by this gift we can find within ourselves the generosity we need to give to the greatest gift of all, ourselves to those we say we love.