WHEN we think of Christmas, gifts and blessings come to mind. People go shopping for things they can give their loved ones. And since many people give, many people receive as well. Generosity seems to abound during this season.

Sharing is a necessary consequence of love. When we love, we are inclined to share what we have with our loved ones. And the more we love, the more we share. This is why husband and wife who truly love share with each other not only material things but even themselves during their married life.

The world around us speaks of God’s blessings all the time. The air, the water, the trees, the sky, the sun, the moon, and all the rest of creation especially the people around us are His gifts to us. However, God’s generosity is most abundantly manifested in the mystery of incarnation and eventually in the humble birth of His son. He gave us His only son because of His marvelous love for us.

St. Paul writes that it is better to give than to receive. Psychologically, giving to others can come from a position of superiority. It can even be a subtle expression of pride or a better (wealthier)-than-others attitude. As Christians, however, we know that authentic giving should be an expression of love.

Receiving, on the other hand, requires humility. It is somehow an expression of our dependence on the generosity of others, and can be interpreted as coming from a position of inferiority. Since it is easier to be “proud” than to be really “humble”, we may find it easier to give than to receive.

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Almost a Magna Carta

After the ten lepers had received the gift of healing from the Lord (they were cleansed), only one was humble enough to return to Jesus to give thanks. Even the Lord was surprised and wondered, “Where are the other nine?” If those ten were to represent the whole of humanity, only ten percent would be grateful. The other ninety percent would be too proud to acknowledge that they were recipients of God’s blessings and, therefore, would not feel the need to say thank you.

It seems that gratefulness is not an inborn quality. It needs to be developed in us as we grow in years. Children have to be told to say “thank you” when they receive favors from others. During this Christmas season, it would be good to pause for some time and take an inventory of all the blessings we have received from God directly and through others. Remember all the people who have been good to us- our friends, classmates, teachers, relatives, brothers and sisters, and most especially our parents. Have we taken time to give them thanks? What do we have that we have not received from God? Have we “returned to Jesus to thank Him?” This season should be one of thanksgiving. We thank God for all His gifts and we thank others for being gifts to us. In so doing, we ourselves become gifts to others.

Better still, as an expression of our gratitude to God, we can share our blessings with others out of love. In the wake of the ferocious typhoon that has devastated the lives of our brothers and sisters in Bicol Region and the neighboring places, we can show our gratitude to God by sharing our resources with them out of love. I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all the members of the Thomasian community to contribute to the fund-raising activities that the university will organize to alleviate the plight of our suffering brothers and sisters.

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Thank you and Merry Christmas. God bless us all!

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