The present economic crisis can provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, rather than on the materialistic spirit that often permeates our Western culture. Since so many people are unemployed or under employed and many family incomes are shrinking, a lot people will have to limit the type and number of gifts they give. This might be a blessing in disguise. It can provide us a chance to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
Gift giving is a wonderful tradition but too many of us tend to go overboard and often measure another’s love and care by the gifts they give and receive. And some people give gifts out of a feeling of obligation or just because someone gives them one. Many feel embarrassed if a person gives them a gift and they have nothing to give in return.
Gift giving is meant to be a sign of one’s love, not an obligation. God showed His love by giving us the greatest gift of all — His Son, Jesus Christ. I heard it put simply in a Christmas homily. The priest said that Christmas is God’s way of showing us how much He loves us. That sums up the message of Christianity.
Whether we recognize it or not, God’s love touches every human being in the world. Without this divine love nothing would exist. God’s love is the glue that keeps the world together and gives us hope.
Material gifts don’t last forever. Many things get lost, broken, lose their usefulness or we get bored with them. On the contrary, God’s love for us never fades. It is everlasting. God is always faithful, even when we are not. God loves us so much that he desires to be with us, morning, noon and night. His care for us is so great that God even became a human being for us. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. Sure, it is always nice to give and receive gifts, but our greatest gift is salvation given by Jesus.
God’s gift is love and the way God loves is through us. We are his instruments of love. God can’t give a hug, but we can.
During this Christmas season we can give the kind of gifts that don’t require a lot of money and won’t overtax our credit cards. Let us give of ourselves rather than material things we may not be able to afford. We can work on mending or renewing old relationships. Or we can do that charitable act that we often think about but never seem to get around to carrying out. Let us live out our good intentions. Other things we might do are to visit or call people we know who are lonely and need some comfort. We might offer to babysit for a young couple that rarely gets time alone. These little kindnesses are often appreciated more than another bottle of perfume or shaving lotion.
Gift giving is okay as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the reason for this season. And parents, teach your children the true meaning of Christmas. Let them know that your love for them is not measured by what is under the tree.
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