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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Celebrating our Gifts

"Do not neglect the gift you have." 1 Tim 4:13

St. Paul, like every good mentor, regularly reminds those he helped form in faith that each person has a gift that is given to them to build up the body of Christ. To forget this, to take it for granted or to deny it harms the whole body. Worse still, we can undervalue the gifts God gives us, especially when they come naturally.

This is a particular danger for those whose gifts are hidden from public view. The volunteer sacristan for a parish community who opens and closes the church everyday, and creates lists of lectors, eucharistic ministers and mass servers, quietly helps everyone to prepare and fully participate in the Eucharist. While rarely acknowledged publicly, her gifts enhance the life of all in the community, and it would be a disservice to herself and the church if she failed to appreciate them as integral to the vibrancy of the body of Christ.

At the same time, our gifts can cause us both to suffer and rejoice. The gift of a compassionate heart, which leads believers to reach out without judgment towards the needy, can often bring suffering. Furthermore, to stand with those who speak and live the truth on behalf of the poor can make believers very vulnerable to the criticism of those who want to protect their wealth and power at any cost.

On the other hand, living with integrity, despite the suffering it brings, causes us to rejoice. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta knew this joy deeply. Unable to ignore the dying poor on the streets of her adopted city, but unsure of how to change the political and economic climate that allowed such suffering, she dedicated herself and her sisters to care for each dying person as if they were Christ, and wrote:
The greatest fulfillment is in doing God's will. We do not have to do great things, only small things with great love. We do not have to be extraordinary in any way, I can do what you can't do and you can do what I can't do. Together we can do something beautiful for God. We can be the little pencils in the hand of God. (Mother Teresa)
Today, be grateful for whatever gifts you have been given.

What blinds you to the gifts of others?

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