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What are you giving to Jesus for his birthday? Do you remember the first ones to give gifts to Jesus on Christmas? It was the Magi. Scripture says that when the Magi, following the star, found Jesus with Mary, they fell prostrate. They opened their treasures and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Now those were gifts fit for a king. Not placing them in the hands of the babe, but laying them at his feet. We see something similar in the book of revelations when the 24 elders to fall down before the one who sits before the throne, and they worship him. They throw down their crowns before the throne, exclaiming, Worthy are you, lord our god, to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things. Because of your will, they came to be and were created.
The Magi opened their treasures and lay them at the feet of Jesus. The 24 elders in Revelation throw their crowns at the feet of the glorified Jesus. What about us? What treasure can we lay down at the feet of Jesus? We may have no gift to bring that’s fit to give our king, but what can we give to Jesus that has meaning?
You see, gifts Have meaning over and beyond their intrinsic value. They don’t just have meaning because of what they cost or because of their usefulness to us. They have meaning because of the sacrifice made by the giver of the gift. It’s the thought that counts, we say. But the reason that the thought counts at all is because there’s a sacrifice that follows the thought.
Sacrifice is an important component to the value of any gift. When I was young, I had an aunt who always gave me clothing as a Christmas gift. It was either an ugly shirt or a pair of mittens that didn’t fit or some other article of clothing that I either didn’t need or because it was so hideous, I didn’t want. And these gifts weren’t expensive. I knew even at the time that she bought them at the neighborhood discount store, so they had no great monetary value, And they had no intrinsic value, at least not for me.
They weren’t things that I needed or wanted. But I always recognized the real value of her gifts. She took time out to walk to a store about 15 blocks away from her house, in the freezing cold, mind you, and spent money that she probably couldn’t spare and put thought into buying a gift for her nephew for Christmas. There was meaningfulness to her gift. It expressed love and affection even if the gift Self had no intrinsic value to me.
Like the widow in the temple in Mark’s gospel, my aunt didn’t give from her surplus, But from her poverty, having nothing to give, she probably gave the most. So I put the question to you again. What are you giving Jesus for Christmas? What treasure will you lay at his feet? What can you offer him?
I have 2 suggestions to consider. The first is give him your virtue. The second may surprise you. Give him your vices and sinfulness. Ideally, the treasure we can offer Jesus is our virtue.
We honor him and pay him homage by living out these characteristics of holiness. Imagine yourself going to greet the newborn king in the manger. You kneel down before him and you say, my dear lord, I have come to open up my treasures and to give you the gift of what? What virtue do you possess that’s fit to give to the king of kings. Charity, love, temperance, sincerity?
What virtue have you mastered that you can offer to Jesus in the manger? When you think about it, you may discover that you haven’t mastered any of them, but there’s still time to change that. Mastering virtue is hard. You won’t do it overnight. But you can begin today to cultivate specific virtues in your life And to change habits of behavior and habits of thought and to develop a holy life, 1 virtue at a time, consistently.
Apart from the gift of our virtues, we may consider offering the lord our sinfulness. I know that strikes you kind of funny, But the whole point of a gift is sacrifice. Right? Well, sometimes the greatest treasure we possess, the thing we most love, aren’t virtues. Sometimes the thing we most love are our vices.
Selfishness may be one person’s greatest treasure, the thing they love the most. Pleasure may be that treasure. Rage, being angry, that may be the thing that one most loves and most wants to hold on to. Maybe it’s the desire for power or love of money, material things. Sometimes the things we most want to retain are the things we most need to surrender.
Let’s go back to that manger scene. Imagine it this way. You fall at the feet of the lord Jesus and you say, Dear Jesus, I have nothing to give you. But I surrender at your feet one of my treasures, my love of self. And I promise to put everyone else first from now on.
Or maybe it goes this way, I surrender at your feet, my love of pleasure, and I promise to patiently endure the crosses you asked me to carry. Or I surrender at your feet my inordinate love of money, and I promise to make you, not money, the center of my life. Maybe you don’t have gold to give. Maybe you don’t have a crown to throw at the feet of the lord Jesus on his birthday. When you search your heart and examine your conscience, you may indeed find yourself very short on virtues to present to the lord Jesus.
Welcome to the club. But you can change that by a renewed determination to change your life and to make it holy before god. Develop your virtues by surrendering your bad habits. If you have no gold to give him, then maybe give him that ugly shirt or the mittens that don’t fit. Give him a gift from your poverty.
Give him the very least if the very least is the best you have to give. Because he can make something very great out of that. He can take the very least sinner and turn them into the greatest of saints. This has been a moment of truth. I’m the Catholic